Don’t Settle for Bittersweet

As I (and those of you in most of the Northern Hemisphere) sweat through the last gasp of the “dog days of summer”, I have been thinking a lot about how this time of year used to bring about mixed emotions for me.

Some things have not and probably will never change, though.

First of all, I love the heat.  It sounds sick, but I’ll take 110 over 25 any day.

(I have always joked about how I NEED to enjoy the heat since it will be very hot throughout the afterlife for me!)

I also love college football season.  Although I’ve recently been a bit too busy to follow as closely as I have in years past, there is always a sense of excitement as the first wonderful “game week” draws closer and closer.

Finally, listening to soft tunes and excited murmurings, smelling the aura of slightly heavy perfume and cigarette smoke, and feeling the warmth of community and fellowship is an almost-nightly ritual that I look forward to in my current Eastern European city.

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Sure, people can be pretty social throughout the year, but there is something about those seemingly carefree and definitely long days of summer that makes the feelings that much more “magical”.

In the past, August was bittersweet

Things were slow at the university for much of the beginning of the month, but as students began to return from their months-long hiatuses and new freshman invaded the campus in their wide-eyed stupor, everything sped up pretty quickly.

Exciting events were taking place.

Students were acting out in stupid ways, trying to look cool, trying to make names for themselves, trying to make friends.

Teaching responsibilities oftentimes included intensive course preparation, hand-holding throughout the first few weeks, and a new crop of students who wouldn’t be completely jaded until the calendar at least turned to September.

The gym was crowded, but at least I could get a spot!

Yeah, August was bittersweet

Over time, one of the newer emotions that I began to experience was something in between “uncertainty” and “longing” with a hefty sprinkle of “resentment”.

Why should there be any “bitterness” about the season?  Why couldn’t I enjoy all of the benefits of the time without polarizing effects of the negative ramifications?

I couldn’t answer those questions when they first manifested in my mind, but over the next three August “seasons”, the answers became pretty clear.

There didn’t have to be any bitterness.  I could enjoy the benefits without the ramifications.

I could also choose to live in a place where I could still enjoy my August inferno.

I could spend more time reading and watching the sport I loved without the feeling of “working for the weekend”, sacrificing Sunday through Friday just to enjoy fleeting Saturdays.

I could discover a new pastime and feeling of community that I was not even aware of and that I could never experience If I simply settled for bittersweet.

Students don’t act quite as inappropriately online.

Course preps involve copying and-pasting from previous courses (most of the time) with a dash of creativity and concepts to experiment with (the online teaching industry is fun like that!)

I hit the gym when my friends are there and it’s not too crowded.

Most importantly, any time that I feel the longing for the sense of community and the simple pleasures of spending time musing in a quaint coffee shop by myself or with people of my choosing, I simply step outside and walk around for a bit.

Online teaching is a very noble undertaking and affords professors and instructors with opportunities to make real impacts on students’ lives, helping them to progress and succeed in the fields of their choosing.

Online teaching also affords the ability to avoid the bittersweet and to instead enjoy a life on one’s own terms.

Feel free to join me soon!

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