It is early afternoon, hours before I feel that I can actually turn my mind off, and I am reminded of the great Robert Frost, who's birthday it is today.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
This is one of my favorite stanzas in all of poetry. The simplicity of it, the normalcy, jars me. Robert Frost, writer of great, widely misinterpreted quatrains, writer who dominates my students' choices for subjects of research papers, had obligations too. He probably sat there on a Tuesday afternoon with a sore tooth and a cold cup of coffee muddling through the creation of what he hoped was useful feedback too. He was just like me.
Of course, I am no Robert Frost. I am just a college writing professor, a selectively published poet, a woman with 75 empty grading rubrics and a queue of 75 essays that need to be paid careful attention. But I find this parallel, this reminder of normalcy and obligation, comforting in this land I call the middle of the semester, a place where I often forget to come up for air.
Midterms can be a scary place filed with deadlines and grade complaints and committee work and the plain old grading that comes with being a teacher of writing. But today, Robert Frost and his small concession to a perfectly normal desire for sleep offered me a realization that is actually priceless in today's "get it done fast" world. I realized I could sleep if I wanted to. I could sleep and I could go for a run and I could bake healthy cookies with agave instead of sugar and I could do all this even if I felt like I didn't have time because really, who wants to count the miles they have to go before they can sleep?
And really, you'll find a way to get it done anyway. You always do, don't you? Go for a run. Enjoy the sunlight. Take a break. Eat a piece of chocolate. Keep your promises to yourself as well as everyone else. Be a person and a professor. It's okay. I think that we've all earned a random hour or two to ourselves. This evening, I'm going to spend mine with a novel.