Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Longing for leisure

I'm at the point in the semester when all the little tasks of teaching and administration -- grading papers, reading journals, preparing class notes, writing recommendations, meeting with students and faculty and staf -- begin to feel especially pressurized. The end of the term is coming, and that means that everything needs to be done right now. And although the holidays will be here soon, the pressure to prepare for next semester continues to build without let-up.

At times like these, I experience an almost physical longing to be reading one of the many books and comics that are stacked up by my bed and listed on my Kindle home page. It's a yearning for escape -- the desire to pause the world and recreate.

I give in to it much too often for my guilty conscience, but instead of the lost-weekend-style literary feast of my dreams, it's stolen moments: the stunning science-fiction short story that opens the latest volume of Acme Novelty Library before bed, a chapter of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire during lunch, a free sample of Twilight (gotta keep up with the latest YA crazes) while waiting for Archer to finish therapy.

But those nibbles always fail to satisfy my hunger at times like these. I have recurring visions of a scenario I once read in a short story (title and author long forgotten), in which a couple finds that when they are in bed, time stops. They start going to their bed for little vacations, stocking up the room with food and escaping the world outside, frozen in place. Of course the story is tragic; at one crucial point, the woman complains to the man that he needs to hurry back to bed because she's aging for no reason. They wind up starving to death due to their unwillingness to return to the flow of time.

I can't help but think, at pressure-packed moments like this when the urge to escape into books is the strongest, that it might not be too high a price to pay...

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Right there with you. The thing I miss most about childhood is those long uninterrupted times to read.

I fantasize about having a non-life threatening illness that would require me to take to my bed, but whenever that actually happens, of course, I'm too sick to read.

Hang in there. Christmas break is coming.