At this very moment, I am sitting in my fifth period statistics class. Mr. Tipper is giving a lecture on confidence intervals. I am ignoring this lecture.
I’m not ignoring it because I don’t respect Mr. Tipper, or because I don’t care about accurate polling, or because I’m an all-around delinquent kid who has no desire to better myself through the study of mathematics. I’m not ignoring it because I want to fight the man, rebel against the public education system, or waste taxpayer dollars. I’m ignoring it because, twelve minutes ago, I remembered that I had promised Joe Colajezzi that I would write an article for the Special Report on homework. I promised I would have it by the end of school – today. Which is in one hour and twenty-two minutes. So I had to choose: pay attention in statistics, or write this article.
Buddhists say we should strive to achieve a state of “mindfulness” – to be mentally and spiritually present in every moment of our lives. Wherever we are, we should focus on being there, rather than allowing our minds to wander to the past and future, or concerning ourselves with the things we could or should be doing.
This is a beautiful ideal, one I find myself contemplating every time I pull out my notebook in second period to study for a third period quiz, or crouch outside my government class finishing a worksheet I hadn’t realized was assigned. I’m thinking about it now, while I ignore Mr. Tipper and write this article, knowing that tonight I will have to struggle to teach myself this lesson at home.
Life is hectic, and it’s easy to let little (or big) things slip through the cracks. At some time or another, we’re bound to forget something – a homework assignment, a promise to a friend, an errand we needed to run. Forgetfulness isn’t a cardinal sin, and doing a homework assignment in class isn’t the worst thing in the world. But we have to realize what we’re giving up when we choose to fulfill one commitment at the expense of another. Every time we do homework in class, we’re moving further away from mindfulness. We pull ourselves in far too many directions at once, and can’t dedicate ourselves fully to anything.
Maybe it’s worth it to lose a few points on that sixth period quiz, if it means you have the chance to really benefit from that fifth period lecture. Maybe what we lose as a result of forgetfulness is less important than what we gain through active participation.
I’ll leave you to chew on that. Now, I need to learn about confidence intervals.