Focusing on the Big Picture

image

Dear P,

I miss you so much! I am so looking forward to our road trip and summer quests.

image

In the words of the great Willie Nelson, I can’t wait to get on the road again.

My free time this semester has been divided into two extra learning experiences, as you know. One is an EMT-basic certification class and the other is the UT Undergraduate Writing Center internship. These are two very different skills, but I have been surprised by how much they have in common.

Both have routines meant to ward off critical mistakes. Both focus on making sure you, the helper, are “safe” first. In an emergency situation, an EMT is not supposed to enter the scene if anything looks unsafe, even if she can see an ailing patient. We learned what meth labs look like this week so that we will be able to avoid them. If a writer makes a consultant feel uncomfortable, the consultant is expected to ask for a replacement at the front desk.

Most of all, I appreciate how both EMT school and the writing center curriculum teach you to approach what’s really wrong first, and then focus on the details. Grammar doesn’t matter if the ideas in your essay don’t make any sense. Splinting a broken wrist won’t help if a patient’s lungs are collapsing. It is easier to notice minor injuries as the sufferer. If your finger has been sliced open, you will be able to see and feel it. However, a lacerated finger isn’t going to kill you. More serious injuries (heart attacks, strokes, diabetic emergencies) may hurt, but not always in a way that is easily recognizable. That is why patients/writers need EMTs/writing consultants to help them reflect over what is a big issue and which is a small issue. None of us have unlimited time. We have to pick which problems to focus on.

When I have a problem in my life, I often find myself obsessively cleaning my room. This has yet to help me solve any real problems in my life, but I feel that if I could just get this floor clean things would be all right. This is like fixing grammar in an essay that lacks a thesis: an utter waste of time. I am beginning to recognize that when I act like this I need help to realize what is actually wrong. I turn to my own personal consultants, my mom (mainly), you, my dear IM (who hopefully will come back to Texas eventually), and other trusted loved ones to help me prioritize my problems. Only then can I stop being a myopic idiot and actually improve my life.

Who are your main consultants, P? Do you compulsively clean when you know you know something big is going wrong? Just kidding, I know you hate cleaning.

Much love and no clorox,

E