Valentine: The overload of spring

Robert Valentine
Senior lecturer
in advertisingRobert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

 “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

This, of course, is utter poetic hogwash. George Will put it better when he observed (if memory serves), “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of baseball.”

This is not hogwash, but it is no longer accurate. The phrase should now read, “In the spring, a student’s fancy turns very heavily toward sleep deprivation.”

In the spring we turn our attention to March Madness, which has now crept into April Agitation. Since the Racers were involved in the NIT, a certain amount of our deepest energy reserves were directed toward support for T. J. and the Gang. But that’s not all.

We are also exhausted from desperately preparing for Murray’s Got Talent, the Miss MSU Pageant, or All Campus Sing. Each of these events consumes thousands of hours (do that math yourself, if you’re able) of student time and leaves some people spent, drained of mental and physical energy and threatened with academic probation.

On top of that, there are 972 award ceremonies, 527 new officer elections, 342 proposals of marriage (and 189 acceptances), 257 end-of-year banquets, 23 spring formals, 84 annual lectures, three presidential crowd surfings, two senior breakfasts, one investiture, one commencement ceremony and a partridge in a pear tree.

Pile on some more: end of year competitions for awards, pre-registration for the fall semester and the often-fruitless search for extra credit points to make up for classes and exercises missed while tending to all the items named in early paragraphs.

It gets worse: much of what we are now scrambling to do should have been done in March, but could not be completed then because of the mountain of makeup work created by the Twin Blizzards of ’15. The faculty are still throwing out lectures which are normally part of the course, but now have to be sacrificed on the altar of expedience.

Once those hard decisions are made, the final exams will have be changed to reflect the revised reality of “Modern Retailing and Online Sales” or “Contemporary Studies in Gender Equity and Male Laziness.”

None of this is enumerated to bring depression into an otherwise pleasant spring day. It is done simply to remind you that, when you consider these things one-at-a-time it is possible to address them one-on-one as well. Regarding the avalanche of obligations and opportunities will paralyze your brain, while looking at them can be liberating.

Remember the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.” Of course, it might help to have a nice box of Elephant Helper on hand, but the fact remains that University people have been coping with the scheduling tsunami of spring for decades.

Look around: all those people with faculty positions survived their undergraduate years; everyone listed as a graduate made it through four or more straight springtime weeks without a night free of concerts, recitals, last meetings, make-up classes, lectures, study groups, banquets and the inevitable breakups with sweethearts who didn’t get birthday cards or long-distance calls (or tweets or texts, if you’re modern). If they can do it, you can, too.

This is not the time to give up; it’s the time to lower your head, bend your knees, look the challenge in the face and say, “I need some sleep.” You also need plenty of fluids, moderate exercise and a decent diet including fruits and vegetables.

“Roughage,” I say.  Then you can pop up 6 a.m., wave “hello” to Mr. Sun, and charge into the day armed with a do-list and the will to succeed. Don’t forget to get dressed. See you at graduation, eventually.