For the past week, I’ve been living in the sixteenth century,* barely coming up for air. On Sunday, Sir John and I went for a walk by a local lake, chatting for the first half mile or so, and then sinking into our private thoughts. Another mile or two down the road, I surfaced enough to say, “You may be walking the trails around H. Lake, but I’m on a road in [English county] something over 400 years ago.” (At least two pairs of horseback riders helped with the illusion.) It turned out that Sir John was deriving basic principles of calculus in his head, so, as he put it, “in a timeless world of Platonic ideals,” meaning that of the two of us, I was somewhat more connected to what might be called the real world. We are well suited!
But there is an actual real life here, and today I need to deal with it: go to the bank, pay bills, grade a lot of papers, sort some other papers, acquire some groceries, prepare some meals. Every time I go near my desk, the temptation to plunge back into the research is very strong. I need to put those books away and focus on things that really need to get done in 2012.
Just for today, I won’t touch those books. I will get out the student papers. I will deal with the financial stuff. I can do this.
*In my head. Not as a re-enactor. And yes, I am a medievalist, but just as people didn’t stand around Chaucer’s grave saying “Thank God, now we can talk normally,” they didn’t decide that “now we can stop reading those old books.” Language and reading habits both change gradually.