Monday, September 12, 2016

A brief respite from futility

My office shelves are stacked with books but one shelf stands out among the rest. No one coming in my office would notice anything particularly special about that row of books and academic journals, but sometimes when I'm at my desk feeling underappreciated or wondering whether anything I do here will make any difference in the world, whether all my careful lesson plans and comments on papers and meetings with students are just a bag of wind that will dissipate ultimately into the ether, when I seem to be stuck on a rickety escalator to nowhere with sleet splattering my face and ravenous wolves chomping at the machinery, when I can't even come up with an adequate metaphor to explain how futile I feel--that's when I look up at that row of books and journals and I remind myself that I might have had a good idea once in a while and that those good ideas will live on inside those pages, rubbing shoulders with other good ideas and enlightening readers for years to come. (Just don't remind me of how few people actually read academic writing. That's like turning up the volume on the wolves' howls.) 

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