opportunity cost

…few people consider the cost of neatness, according to Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess…

Not me. I’ve known this a long time.

It’s been quite a while since my friend Bruce brusquely taught me “opportunity cost.” In my memory, it didn’t take much, since even in my mid-20s I was painfully aware of how every choice carried its gifts and detriments—

or said another way (while I can’t find the source to attribute it), everything holds the defects of its virtues, and the virtues of its defects.

Choosing to use Lotus Notes as a collaborative platform within an enterprise that already had Microsoft tools on every single Microsoft-box (thousands!) gave opportunities—back then, Notes was a much better place to do the kinds of distance collaboration we now take for granted—and generated some very real costs… most of which were not monetary.

Pursuing a degree full-time, particularly on a residential campus when I live offsite, is like that, too.

I am gaining so much in what I consider ‘brain-compost’—material that wires and fires my synapses—whether it’s listening in class, reading the volumes assigned, writing about them (because that’s a kind of wrestling into ownership), or discussing Things in the way that students are drawn to do. My brain had been feeling parched and barren for some years before this… and my long-time dear ones comment about how vibrant I now seem in contrast.

I am losing time with my web of dear ones.

I am losing time with my own complex of thoughts. (Complex structures take time to navigate.)

Which means I’m losing time to write here, and time to write poems. Everything takes time, as well as attention…

…and while these things I miss claim my attention, it happens in the cracks in my time, like when I’m commuting to and from school. So I am sad, and still unable to act to shift it. (Thank you, therapy, for teaching me to recognize those things where acting will change the ground. If you’d come with true multi-dimensionality, that’d’ve been better still.)

Opportunity: there’s a small conference today and tomorrow, held in a downtown church. I have friends attending! I could come and go, interweaving it into the blocks of my days.

Cost: Six papers behind in one class, a book in another, two chapters in the next, two papers in the fourth. One, two, three pieces of writing and two presentations. Those oh-so-patient, patient beyond bearing, thirteen-year-olds who handed me documents to review IN AUGUST. The reading-packet for a gem of a class.

Time, I think, is my body’s boundary on my mind’s hungers.

I still don’t like it.

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