better than in the middle

Classes started this week, which means I'm adjusting to a routine and schedule again, after the freedom of summer. I teach in the middle of the day, which, so far, has turned out pretty well. This week, I've had office hours in the morning, taught class mid-day and headed home in the early afternoon. In the past, I stayed on campus to get work done but I've realized that I wasn't actually accomplishing much. This week, being home earlier makes me feel like I have some freedom and I've actually gotten things done.

In Business Writing, we're talking about how we define happiness and how these ideas translate both into marketing trends, company policies and cultural attitudes toward work in general. Having not been a product of business school, and coming from an entirely different background, I'll be interested to see how the students approach the assignments but also the attitude with which I come to class. It has to be more fun than writing memos.

Anyway, yesterday, I asked them to fill in the blank: Happiness is _________________. And I did the same. Then I asked us to consider why that particular act, thing, person, whatever makes us happy. I wrote: "Happiness is riding in the car with the windows down when it's cool but not yet cold, listening to a great song on the radio and having someone I love beside me." As I thought about why these things make me happy, I kept coming back to the word freedom, having the freedom to go, move and see.

I'm in the car a lot. So it's interesting to me that it's a place that represents happiness. I've had some great road trips and I love the intimacy of being a car with someone you like with miles and miles to talk. Some of my favorite memories of college involve driving or riding in cars.

After a long weekend with friends across the river, I remember riding back to Mobile, back to the reality of classes and work, our daily lives waiting for us. The night was dark and cool; rain was in the air but had not yet fallen and I could see the stars if I turned my head just right. The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" came on the radio. My friend turned up the volume and we all sang:

Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight

And I remember thinking, "This is what life is about."

These days, I fear I allow my time to be filled in ways that allow these kinds of moments. I would like to change that. I know I feel the least happy when I'm rushed, when I don't feel like time belongs to me. I'm happiest when I can relax, knowing I've accomplished enough of what I needed to for the day and time is mine.