Another email: The tides of life

Author: Kerry Temple ’74

OK, here’s the deal. Some months ago, mapping our plans for the magazine’s revamped website, we thought it’d be good to do blogs, write blogs, find other folks to write blogs for us. Now I’ve never blogged before but I’ve written stuff, including columns, and it seemed like a good idea.

As editor I haven’t written as much as I’d like, and there’s stuff I could say, especially if I didn’t have to select quarterly-apt subject matter and craft meticulous prose. Heck, I could write about things I’d seen or heard on campus, things of interest and import to alumni that didn’t fit into the four-times-a-year print magazine, things emerging from the big world beyond us, maybe even write about my kids and wife and life as it comes to us day to day.

I couldn’t wait. It’d be a fun opportunity. There were stories everywhere.

This morning I’m lying in bed thinking about all I have to do — editor’s column for the spring issue, headlines, the John Sherry interview story, get going on those staff performance reviews, thank-you notes for the cookies and the fudge, about a thousand emails to answer, pull together the summer issue, prepare for an editorial advisory board meeting, and oh, yeah, I really need to write that first blog I’ve been postponing for weeks, and exercise, and email Tom and James and Sheila . . . . and I get to the office and there’s even more email here than yesterday.

I spend the morning on emails (well, before and after coffee downstairs), but make no real headway against the email tide. Not to mention that initial blog.

So then I’m heading to lunch and I think I should go work out. I’m thinking about blood pressure, cholesterol, my weight and a high-fiber diet. And I go eat instead. I take a magazine along, get the chips and the pop and the cookie, too, and I’m reading the magazine that says I should floss more. I know, I know, I hear that every year. But this says, no, not just for gum disease, but flossing and healthy gums reduce heart attacks and build up the immune system. Wow, a louder barking voice. So I buy some sugarless gum and vow to work out later.

And I’m wondering, on my way back from lunch, if other people feel this way, too, that life makes you feel like you’re always swimming upstream. Do you?

I mean, my life is really pretty easy compared to most. I’m a lot more fortunate than I deserve. Still, most of the time I feel like life is coming at me faster than I can fend off its barrage of demands, requests, tasks and chores, the obligations and needs and — and oh yeah, that, too, not to mention this and that and preserving my health against the incessant march of time and my own appetite for down-time and pleasure.

It just seems so constant. Always something else, something more, things I haven’t gotten around to, stuff let go too long. And the thing is, I know it’s me. I just need to be better, quicker, more efficient, write shorter email responses, be more professional, start practicing those time management techniques I learned about.

A little while ago I told my wife I was thinking about writing an essay for the magazine about Inadequacy, how I feel so inadequate so much of the time. She said, “Mmm, I wouldn’t.” So I didn’t. But at least now I’ve written my first blog. First sign of greater efficiency. First day of the rest of my life. Here we go.

Kerry Temple is editor of Notre Dame Magazine.