Friday, June 29, 2012

Flames on the Side of My Face

I was up a bit too late last night celebrating Smed's birthday considering what time I have to get up in order to teach at 8 in the am. So when my alarm went off this morning this is what was going on in my mind:

 I just wanted my sleep and for my alarm to go the way of the singing telegram:

 Unfortunately, none of that changed the fact that I still had to get up, still had to get ready, and that I still have to teach in 40 min.

Maybe after I'm done teaching I'll come home and watch Clue.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In Which Sam Has a Brilliant Idea

I've just had a brilliant idea.

(note: I haven't really thought this through very deeply, but from where I'm standing...ok sitting, it seems pretty valid)

Schools and places of work should all be required to provide enough windows in any place where people study/work that there is no need for overhead lighting of any kind. On top of having more windows, schools and places of work should be required to not provide or install overhead lighting of any kind.

This would cut down on energy bills. It would expose people to more sunlight and help with depression issues as well as general well-being. It would make it impossible--well maybe not impossible but at least very difficult--to study/work at these places after the sun goes down. People would be forced to go home if they wanted to "get things done." As we all know, it's impossible to be school/work productive at home, so productivity during the sunlit hours of the day would be absolutely necessary and thus increase. Bosses and overseers would be forced to recognize that there's only so much that can be done while the sun is out, and they wouldn't be able to demand as much from their employees and underlings. In so doing, work-related stress levels would go down dramatically.

In sum:

Energy bills=decreased.
Daytime productivity=increased.
Work-related stress=decreased.
Depression rates=decreased.
Time spent at home with family, friends and loved ones=increased.
Overall satisfaction with life=increased.

Now I ask you:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sustained Motivation

Do you ever feel really super inspired to go out and do all the things that you need/want to do that will help you to better be the person that you need/want to be, but then when the time actually comes to do those things the inspiration has run dry and you don't do them? ...ok, I'll admit that that was a really vague and nebulous question. Please disregard it. Rather than posing a question, let me illustrate what I mean by showing a few examples from my life, and then get to the real question later.

I have a hard time keeping myself motivated. Please consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1
Sometimes I'll be sitting in class and we'll be having a fantastic discussion about rhetoric or composition instruction or really anything to do with what I'm studying, and I'll feel this rush of adrenaline deep within me, and my heart will start beating faster as I think about all the individual research that I want to do to further my own understanding of the topics we're talking about. And then thinking about all that research makes me really happy because I take my excitement about the subject material as confirmation that what I'm studying and the direction I'm taking my life really is what I want and need. But then when the time rolls around when I should go into the library and do research, or work on one of the dozen pet projects that I have laying around, or even just do the base-line, required homework for the classes I'm taking, all that motivation that I felt during class evaporates and the only thing I want to do is sit around and watch episodes of mind-numbing and unenlightening TV shows like The West Wing or Once Upon a Time.

Scenario 2
Sometimes I'll be sitting in Sacrament Meeting and I'll be feeling great and super pumped about the things I'm going to do differently so that I can live closer to the Holy Ghost and better live up to the covenants I've made. Usually this motivation inspires me to set goals like going to bed earlier and getting up earlier so that I can exercise and read my scripture before I set out for the rest of the day, or making a conscious effort to go out of my way to serve other people and be kind to them, or to go to the temple with greater frequency. But then my alarm goes off at 6:30am and I decide that I'm too tired and I'll read my scriptures and exercise later. Or I'll think to myself, "I should really go to the temple today," and I'll think of dozens of other "more important" things that I should do instead of going to the temple. That motivation that I felt as I sat in church and listened to someone bear their testimony is all but gone in that moment when said motivation would spark me into action.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I look back at my life and I can think of dozens of experiences that I've had when this motivation that I'm talking about has hit me hard and I feel like I'm turning my life around. It's hit me while having countless conversations in the carrels with Tara and Jarron and Carolyn and Drew and Angela and Paige and Shannon and Becca and all my other grad school friends as we talk about anything and everything from rhetoric to dating to social/political issues to classroom issues to inane small talk. Somewhere in there I almost always feel that spark ignite in me that drives me to want to be better and work harder in many different areas of my life. It happens when I'm sitting quietly in the temple reflecting about my life and where I am in comparison to where I want to be. It happened numerous times while sitting Meridith's office talking about the class we were teaching and invariably started talking about how we're going to save the world from itself via composition education in the university classroom. It happens when I'm in the shower thinking about the day ahead of me. It happens while I'm talking to my parents about many varied things. It happens while I'm driving to and from Bluffdale with Maurianne. It almost always happens every time I get together with my family and I look at the awesome people that they are. But nearly all of these motivating times happen to me when I'm not in a place to take advantage of the surge of emotion and drive. By the time I'm in a situation where I have the time and means of actually doing the work that should be associated with this passion and motivation, all desire and yearning to do great things and be great myself has dried up and I'm nothing but a dried husk of laziness and discomfort. I'm not sure I'm totally describing my frustration here, but I think this is about as good as I can get for now.

Anyway, living this way is utterly infuriating.

All of this reminds me of the first day of my Shakespeare class a couple years back. Richard Duerden, my professor, said these words that have stuck with me and that are constantly ringing in my head:

Talent is desire to practice;
Genius is willingness to work.

I love that idea so much. I agree with it whole-heartedly. I yearn for it. So why the devil can I not actually sustain those moments of motivation so that they become the drive to me actually laboring diligently in my work, broadly defined?

So I now pose this question to any and all who happen to read this, admittedly overlong, rant about my frustrations with life:

How do you maintain and sustain motivation in your life?
What do you do to keep working and pushing yourself even when you really, really don't want to?
What are your secrets in this department?

Ok, that was three questions; please forgive me.

This is something that I've struggled with for awhile, so I'm open to any and all suggestions that anyone might have. If you don't feel comfortable leaving a public comment here on my blog, feel free to email me with any thoughts that you have on this subject at sam.dunn(at)