Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun

"Witness the man who raves at the wall
Making the shape of his question to Heaven
Whether the sun will fall in the evening
Will he remember the lesson of giving

Set the controls for the heart of the sun"

(R. Waters)

So one of the interesting things about reading blogs (especially ones you like) is being exposed to the bloggers' ideas and thoughts.  And so it was early this morning (I'm a very bad sleeper) I was perusing _________'s blog (sadly I cannot link to it for reasons best left unexplained) and she posted an (edited) essay that she wrote to Stern College as part of her application.  The thrust of the essay, written around her former obsession with FaceBook (since then she has closed her page) was how, with the help of her parents, she realized that she should have spent more time in high school focusing on academics and less on time wasters such as the biggest time waster of them all FaceBook. 

Regarding the FB part, I totally agree.  I proudly declare that I do not have a FB page, nor have I ever had one.  I have been asked/pressured/demanded to create one, but I have held strong.

And let's be 100% clear.  I am not judging anyone here. For starters, I don't judge people, lest people judge me (which they probably do anyway).  Secondly,  I have talked to ________ like one time, maybe twice, but I can see she's a special person.  So clearly she turned out pretty darn well.

What I had some issues with, however, was the rest of her point - specifically, that she should have spent less time focused on other parts of her high school life - such as extra curriculars, her propensity to create (art and video media specifically) and on her social life (of which she seems to have had a monster one).

To me this is where the grey area sets in.  I commented on her post something to the effect of  - who is to say the sole focus should be academics?  Who is to say an A+ is more important than the creation of something beautiful (art) or even something humorous (a funny video that brings amusement to people).  Who is to say that the hour you spent on the phone with someone who is feeling crappy (at a time in life, high school, that is often referred to as the hardest time in a girl's life) isn't worth more than the same 60 minutes of Algebra?


To me, life is, or should be, about balance.  I recognize there are exceptions to this rule (maybe there are some prodigies out there who can manage great things in academics if they apply themselves to it 100%) who the general rule doesn't apply to.  But for the rest of us, it's important to achieve balance. 

If a famous writer/composer/athlete/lawyer can suffer from burnout - so can a student.  After all, they don't have years of experience to draw from.  How hard did any of us really have to work in 6th grade???  And even if it isn't an issue of burnout, there's still the issue of being "well rounded'.  Contrary to parental belief, well rounded doesn't mean straight A's.  At least not to me. 

On the other hand, I'm no parent.  I am just now becoming a "normal" person (or trying to).  So perhaps I am not in a postition to have a well thought out position on this.  Certainly my own high school experience isn't one I can (or should) necessarily draw on. 

But maybe this isn't only about raising kids.  Maybe everyone needs to find balance.  I imagine this becomes harder and harder as the years pass.  First there's school, then a job.  Then balancing a job and a spouse.  They balancing a job, a spouse, 3 kids and a mortgage payment, all while trying to find a week you can go away for a stress-filled vacation. 

Since it gets harder, I'd argue you better have a good base when you are younger.  A base for understanding the necessity of balance.  I suppose that's where parents come in.  Someone needs to show us how it's done.

After all, if you set the controls for the heart of the sun, you might burn up.


  1. I like your idea of balance, but to how many students is it truly realistic?

    There's one person who might be doing school only because that's what kids gotta do. So he'll go to school and work hard, but only work hard in order to be done with school. In the meantime, he'll become popular in the wrestling team and active in student council. And he'll enjoy his extracurriculars more because he's not into the whole schooling thing.

    Now take someone who actually learns lishma. He doesn't care about the other clubs in school, he learns because he's extraordinarily motivated and interested in his studies.

    Have you met someone who appreciates both to the same extent? (And we're not talking about he who kisses up to his teachers/peers/clubs sake in order to have a fantastic resume for college.) I've not. :(

    And depending on which you like more (learning or extracurriculars), you will immediately prioritize which is "better" according to your standards. But how many times are your standards accurate? It all depends.

  2. I think it might be more realistic than you realize. It just doesn't necessarily get expressed. Kids understand the value of school, they just get pulled in a million direction. or they are lazy. So yes, some need to be pushed harder.

    Also, that's why it's important for parents to understand it. i'm not saying people should be happy with B's and C's, but is it really necessary to be a straight A student at the expense of any and all other interests?

    You can get advanced degrees without being aperfect student too. You don't need a 4.0 to get into NYU las school.

    And say you are really successful in your job because you worked so hard for it. And then you worked so hard to be successful in the job. and now ur 50 years old and your company downsized and u were forced into eaerly retirement. Now you stare at the walls all day becausethe last time you had an interest outside of work was in 7th grade when your mother told you you couldnt play trombone anymore because it was interfereing with map skills.