Sometimes in college it feels like everyone’s trying to get onto your emotional acre (see Inspirational Quote). I have had meetings and meetings and classes and classes and talked to a million enthusiastic people who just want an hour of my time a week. I have made tea for my friends, written a paper with my friends and gone to meals with my friends. I have a bed to make, a meal to cook and a paper to write. And my emotional acre to tend. In Anne Lamott’s book she is making clear that, as a writer (maybe even as a person) you need to guard your emotional safe space. For many people this corresponds to their physicals space–however, in college, living within feet of a dozen or more people, you must find a new analogy for your emotional acre. Maybe it’s a Journal. A sound which centers you. But what is important is that, no matter what people think of you and your organizational, leadership, homebuilding, record keeping or paper-writing capabilities, you are clear on what matters to you. I have discovered that bad classes end, and have value; I have discovered the world does not end with an unmade bed (though only for one day); I am working on keeping my emotional acre the way I want it to be kept. This means calling those I love, smiling at Freshmen, singing when I walk, reading for fun, getting my heart rate up–but those are all external things. What my emotional acre looks like to me should be the happiest place I have ever been. And maintaining my emotional acre is one of the better things I should put on my TODO list.
PS: I just found a really cool Power Point Presentation called “Choosing Human Rights” I made last year for my International Issues and Public Policy class (which reminded me about this quote and thus led to this post).
“…Every single one of us at birth is given an emotional acre all our own. You get one, your awful Uncle Phil gets one, I get one, Tricia Nixon gets one, everyone gets one. As long as you don’t hurt anyone, you really get to do with your acre as you please. You can plant fruit trees or flowers or alphabetized rows of vegetables, or nothing at all. If you want your acre to look like a giant garage sale, or an auto-wrecking yard, that’s what you get to do with it. There’s a fence around your acre, though, with a gate, and if people keep coming onto your land and sliming it or trying to get you to do what they think is right, you get to ask them to leave. And they have to go, because this is your acre.”
—from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, 1994.