Happy May Day! There are a number of things going on today, both for the traditional spring holiday and for organized labor, and I probably ought to get involved in some of them. Whether or not I will remains to be seen; I do have other things to do.
Among them is addressing the point I had meant to before I remembered that today is a holiday and a union action day.
I have not made a secret of the recent changes to my employment status. It has not been easy for me; I am accustomed to working (despite the protestations of many that those who teach do not actually work), and like many people, I have formed much of my identity around the work I do. But even as I look for a new job (and I am looking, with several dozen job applications out at the moment and more to fill out each day), and even as I worry about meeting my financial obligations, I recognize some benefits to my current circumstances.
One of them is that I have time to write. This has shown up, I think, in the series of blog entries that I have churned out over the past few days, particularly in comparison to the relative dearth of them in the past few months. I am also working on a few other projects, such as the conference paper I wrapped up (with too much difficulty) yesterday and some grant applications that will not help in the short term but may well bear out for me in the next few years. While working, I had not the energy to attend to them well; preparing for classes, teaching them, and grading the student submissions that came from them demanded most of my waking hours and more energy, really, than I had available for it. Now, I have more of each, and I am trying to fill my non-job-applying time with the tasks I had let slip and which I can do for relatively little cost.
(It is one of the oddities of academic life that planning has to happen one to three years in advance to be effective. And I still view myself as an academic despite my current lack of institutional affiliation; I spent long enough earning my degrees to justify it.)
Another benefit of the current circumstance is that I have a bit of time to slow down, look around me, and take in the glory of the world. There are problems, sure, and those problems need to be fixed. Indeed, I have commented (here, here, here, and here) that much of my teaching work at for-profit institutions, which take in many of those students who otherwise would have no opportunity to attend college, is in an effort to address some of those problems. But that does not mean there is not much in the world that is good and should be celebrated; if nothing else, we are capable of changing things to be better, to help one another.
I have not always, or even often, been good about recognizing the good in what is around me, as those who know me know. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be made aware of the blessings that are showered upon me even now, and I hope to be able to continue to recognize them.