In the busyness of school life, it’s a challenge to excel and still value each moment.
by Michael Grundstrom
You are late Mr. Grundstrom. And it looks like you forgot your pants, too.”
A chill of goosebumps runs down my spine. The humiliation and blankness rush across my face. The teacher stands in front of a full classroom of all my closest friends.
I have had this dream more than once, this dream of being late. I always worry about what time it is or what time I have to be places. I do not know where this has come from, nor do I think I will ever know. But along with my mysterious fear, I have this weird obsession with time and its principles.
My schedule on a regular week involves debate practices, viola lessons, play rehearsals, church service, homework, and, right smack dab in the middle of all this, school. I am currently taking four to five enriched classes, two of which are AP. Often times I go to bible studies or youth group, extra study sessions or orchestra rehearsals, and even read a book. With all of this I may get six to seven hours of sleep.
Maybe the late nights of homework or rehearsal are just a search for something fulfilling.
Recently, I was involved in a musical at Central called Pippin. In the musical, the main character is struggling to find his niche, or as he likes to call it, his “Corner of the Sky.” About half way through the first act, the main character meets his grandmother and tells her that he is feeling “empty and vacant.” She then responds, in my opinion, with the wisest advice possible. She tells him not to take life so seriously and starts to sing about not having enough time to do anything. At first glance, this is not a major scene to the plot. But when I looked at the plot again, I saw managing time as a major component to the things Pippin was doing.
My overbearing homework has me singing along. On a typical night, I work on my math and study for my AP US history class, sometimes leaving time to practice my viola. Every other night I will do my chemistry homework or Spanish homework; I also might have an English assignment to work on. My only break, after play rehearsal, viola lessons, or debate practice, is dinner, and sometimes I steal a little time to play games on my iPod. Then I will go to bed around 9 or 10pm.
When Pippin runs into his grandmother, Berthe, she sings the song, “Just No Time At All.” In this song, Berthe breaks the fourth wall and gets the audience involved in singing this chorus:
Oh, it’s time to start livin’
Time to take a little from this world we’re given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all.
Berthe is saying—I mean singing—that Pippin shouldn’t take this world for granted. After a couple of verses and the chorus, Pippin partially sees his grandmother’s point. He finally relaxes, but then continues searching. He eventually finds out that war, women, and ruling over his kingdom are not fulfilling. He has never stopped to smell the flowers or to enjoy his life.
I can understand Pippin’s struggle. With all of my work, planning has become my number one focus. I procrastinate on occasion, but I like to look at it as planned procrastination. Sometimes my procrastination has even gone as far as finishing an assignment one minute before it is due. Too often, though, I feel tired and find myself daydreaming because of my extraneous work. In addition, I feel stressed. I feel like the world is about to come down on me, almost as if I can no longer function. Instead, I just keep moving on, I look forward.
In the end, Pippin finds someone to satisfy him and fulfill his time, rather than finding something completely satisfying. Stephen Schwartz, the author and composer of Pippin even says this:
If you keep running around looking for perfection in life and letting outside forces influence your goals and choices, instead of picking something you care about and sticking with it without illusions or romanticizing, you will eventually “burn yourself out” and destroy yourself.
Basically Mr. Schwartz is summarizing the resolution of the plot in Pippin; he is saying that nothing will be exactly the way someone would like it. In the “Finale,” Pippin is tempted to commit suicide because he thinks he hasn’t found true fulfillment. Yet he chooses not to. Sometimes, I see myself in Pippin’s shoes. No, I do not think of suicide as finding my “Corner of the Sky,” but maybe I am searching for something fulfilling in the end.
Maybe the late nights of homework or rehearsal are just a search for something fulfilling. Maybe, from time to time, I need to slow down and value the important things in life. Maybe I shouldn’t take this world for granted. Maybe I should stop worrying about forgetting my pants. I could finally to take Berthe’s advice and not worry about walking out of the house in the morning without pants.
Photo: Time ! by Craig Sunter on Flickr