Psychology Magazine

Over-estimating the Dessert Bar: What I’ve Gotten Myself Into This Summer

By Agholdier @agholdier

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.

- Bilbo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Bk. II, Ch. 3, “The Ring Goes South”

Oh, how I wish I could say the same, Master Baggins.

From the 1976 Tolkien Calendar illustrated by the Hildebrandt Brothers

From the 1976 Tolkien Calendar illustrated by the Hildebrandt Brothers

When I reapproached the concept of blogging, I had loosely committed to the rigorous posting schedule of “whenever I feel like it, but probably at least once a month.” I figured that nothing in southern Idaho had kept me so busy that I would be unable to continue this writing exercise that is, if nothing else, good practice. Although I confess that I have now reached the point where my site is seeing multiple new visitors on a daily basis and I have the occasionally rather odd search query (like “ignoring cats while on meth”) to thank for that.

Surely this is what success tastes like.

In all honesty, at this point, this blog is designed primarily as a honeypot to catch the flies flitting from my mind. Gardeners garden, runners run, musicians…music…, and writers write – so when I have nothing else to write, I shall always have this blog.

Lately, I have had quite a lot to write.

Last summer was our first summer in southern Idaho and I, rather unwittingly to be sure, quickly found the break of school to deliver a steady stream of boredom on a daily basis. My wife and children had spent time building their standard rhythm of the day-to-day that I was, for the most part, disturbing. It certainly offered us plenty of opportunities, but when the listlessness that inevitably strikes on hot summer afternoons returned, things could become…stressful. It was a lighthearted stress, but enough of one to convince me that this summer would require far more scheduled attention.

So, over Christmas break I started hitting up the online CFP postings, looking for summer work. Thinking that I might get lucky with a submission, I spent part of the Spring sending out several suggestions for book chapters or journal article queries in the hopes that one might spark some interest. I also applied to start teaching some online ethics courses for Colorado Technical University.

Like a twelve year old at a dessert buffet, I now realize how much larger my academic eyes are than my ability to stomach the workload.

It has been exciting, don’t misunderstand me – and I’m not yet regretting the mass of commitments that I’ve made – but I have had far less time to waste over the last two months (and I’ve hardly needed an extra space to write).

Many thanks to Michael D. Stark for bringing me in on this project!

Many thanks to Michael D. Stark for bringing me in on this project!

At this point, 2014 has seen the publication of two books with chapters that I’ve helped contribute (Jurassic Park and Philosophy: The Truth is Terrifying and The Devil and Philosophy: The Nature of His Game), the rejection of two articles that I had submitted for review (one on Tolkienesque mythopoesis that has been edited and resubmitted to a more appropriate journal; the other is undergoing extensive editing for submission to a conference), a well-received presentation at the SCP conference in Montana, another abstract outlined for two potential conferences (one of which has been unfortunately cancelled), two more book chapters written and submitted (for the upcoming Doctor Who and Philosophy: Regenerated!) and proposed (for Superman vs. Batman and Philosophy), and a business ethics course constructed (and taught) for CTU.

Indeed, I’ve been busy. This is all on top of my “real” job teaching high school theology classes for public school students – a course which I have, meanwhile, been outlining and prepping to kick off in about three weeks.

Not to mention spending time with my family, my church (I’m preaching this Sunday!), and my lovely wife. I now understand why writers are so constantly and consistently grateful to their ever-patient spouses (as I most certainly am for mine). I believe that I need at least two hands to count the number of recent days where I would have forgotten to eat were it not for the careful ministrations of one Jennifer A. Holdier (who has started her own blog! If you like gardening, bass playing, and other forms of art, I think you will like it).

Won't this look great on the bookshelf next to Goodnight Moon?

Won’t this look great on the bookshelf next to Goodnight Moon?

So, I have a little less than a month to finish up my summer workload: completing this course for CTU (and starting the next round), finishing and submitting one final journal article for review (on John Caputo, William Lane Craig, and C.S. Lewis, of all people), and writing one more book chapter (a more academic version of the one I’ve already done on the Devil). Thankfully, that last one isn’t due until December.

This is why I almost completely forgot that my birthday is in a week.

It’s been a fun marathon this summer, but I’m looking forward to the beginning of the school year; once that hits, I can focus all of my energy towards the students in front of me (and we’ll be discussing some of my favorite topics: apologetics, hermeneutics, and basic theology!). Until then, I’ve got deadlines calling my name.

Next summer, I think I’ll try to sit more with Bilbo by his fire.

Tags: academic workload, busy, Philosophy, pop culture and philosophy, summer vacation, Tolkien

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