I am slowly starting to learn what it means to be busy.
My journey to busyness began just over a year ago, at the start of 5th year. Up until the end of fourth year, life had been easy: as a bright student, with little homework, my school day began at 9am and ended at 3.30pm, and my school week ran from Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, with the start of my Highers, the well-defined lines between school life and home life began to blur.
Fourth year was easy. Although I was studying for exams in 8 subjects, and having lessons in PE, RE, and SE, the most demanding part of my school life was probably managing to get dressed at 7.30 in the morning. Like a few people then (and now almost everyone, with hindsight), I found the academic side of school to be ridiculously easy, and besides extra personal study that I chose to do in my own time, I was never particularly challenged. Tests would be completed with ease, essays leapt out of my pen and onto the page, and homework given out would be completed – often before the lesson had even finished – and returned on time. But this is not so with senior school.
Up until the end of fourth year, the main attraction and enjoyment of school was the social aspect – seeing friends, having a laugh and exchanging jokes, and meeting new people. If you asked me in fourth year what I thought would be different about my experience of school in sixth year, I would have replied something like “harder work – but less of it”. At least I’d have got one part of it right – the work sure is harder! But less?Â I think that that may have been a slightly inaccurate prediction!. What really gets me, however, is not that the main aspect of school has gone from socialising to academics – because it hasn’t – but that both schoolwork and having a good time with friends are taking a much greater place in my life. One has not grown at the expense of the other – no, they have grown together.
For me or you reading this now, that seems pretty simple, pretty normal. I agree – it certainly does. The point I’m trying (briefly) to touch on, however, is that of what we can imagine and foresee.
Consider going back in time and showing electricity to the 18th Century, or nuclear bombs to the 19th Century, or the Internet to the start of the 20th. These people would be lost – they would have no concept of these ideas. Just as if I told you that there was a third direction after left and right called “foon”, to these people, these concepts would just not fit. The world is how they see it – and to them, they see no electricity, they see no radiation – so how can they possibly understand these things? It’s very difficult for me to put this into words – I may have to revise this post at a later date – but we are in the same position as these 18th and 19th Century people, all of us, and all the time. We have no idea what the next big discovery will be – we can’t comprehend it because we simply don’t know. On a much lower level, the same is going on in our everyday lives. As a fourth year I just could not fathom what life would be like as a sixth year, and the same is true now – what will life be like as an adult at 21? I just do not know – all I can do is wait and see.
Such is busyness. I had no concept of it as a fourth year, and remained blissfully ignorant of my impending inundation. Sometimes I wish that I did know what would await me. That way, I can only think that I would have made much better use of my time – time that I no longer have. Yet other times I’m glad I didn’t. I am learning more and more that the things that adults say to children do actually contain a lot of truth. “Make the most of your childhood” – really, it’s great advice. But I now know that this advice is futile. Children have no reason to take this advice: for them, life is just great and will stay great forever, so why do anything? They have no concept of things changing, because in a noticeable way, things never really do as a young child. Perhaps it’s a curse, perhaps it’s a blessing.
This is the first stage in my life where the concept of things being substantially different in my future enters into my conciousness. Not just like now but slightly different, but no, really different. I will change, and the world will change, but I don’t know how. All I know is that right now, I’m really busy, but based on past experience, I’ll probably look back at this time and relish the huge amount of free time that I had, whilst I put another load of my kids’ washing into the machine or something daft like that. If the ability to acknowledge the future and draw on experience from the past teaches me anything, it is to live for the present, in the present, because there is no other place I can possible be, and anyway, I have no idea what the future will look like, and it’s making it really hard to make decision that will affect my future.
But anyway, I’m digress. None of this gets away from the fact that at the moment I am really very busy, and getting busier. I have a lot of homework every day. My deadline for university application is 2 weeks. I am trying to get the school newspaper up and running. I am a deputy headboy with all the title’s responsabilities. Lessons in class are actually busy. I have a gap year to plan. And, on top of all that, I have the things that I want to do in my (ever diminishing) free time. Unfortunately, some things are suffering: my gym-going, reading and TV watching. I rarely watch a single programme on a school night, and I only get to read about an hour’s worth of reading (mainly just grabbing a minute here or there to look my iPod’s feedreader) rather than the 2 or 3 hours a day that I would like. I do like to read and learn. And Rodney hasn’t seen me in a good couple of weeks – though the swimming pool has, thankfully.
All this calls for is some motivation, organisation, repositioning of my perspective on life, and perhaps a couple of weeks of really good night’s sleeps.
O holiday, I await thee with excitement and relief.