I find the return to school every fall very exciting. I like the start-up rituals. I still have to have new stuff—pens, notebooks, calendars, and of course new shoes. I am glad to see the faces of my friends and colleagues again and to hear what they have been doing since I saw them last. I love to see former students again and meet new students. I’m eager for classes to start. I haven’t yet gotten behind on my paperwork and phone calls.
At the same time, there is always a certain amount of anxiety at this time of year. I worry about how I am going to allocate my time so that I can get everything done without killing myself. And I worry about whether, in the crush of the year’s activities, I can preserve my soul. I know I am not the only one who feels such ambivalence about the start of a new year, or who wonders how to get through the year without losing one’s soul, or one’s faith, or one’s intellectual integrity.