Failing at leisure


We’ve all had those moments when the test comes back, when the eyes close, and the grumbling starts.

Just before fall break started, I got a test back just like this. I felt I had done quite well, had even gotten a high A — not the case. I retreated to the library to look over just how I had messed things up so badly. A little mistake here, a larger one there, and eventually, it added up to a grade I wasn’t expecting.

But before I jump into why my mediocre government test matters to you, let me point out that I’m a hypocrite in what’s about to follow. That afternoon, I went home and collapsed for a nap. I had papers to write and more material to read, but I didn’t care; I just wanted to sleep and forget the test. I forgot the important point behind the test I had taken.

When we do less than our best on exams, projects, etc., what should we do? Well, often times we go home, collapse, and take a nap to forget about it or relieve the sting. But what we ought to do is much different.

While we get to take tests, others are working. Some, across the world  and even in Sioux Falls, are working miserable jobs just to eat. Or they’re not working at all. Or they’re not eating.

What does it matter that I could have done better on my test when we think about that? When we consider  the different hardships others face while we are taking those miserable tests, it’s easy to see how lucky we are.

Keeping the faith sometimes means simply doing the tasks we are blessed to be able to do. Sometimes it means performing on exams and recovering from bad grades while thinking about the larger perceptive.

Pardon the classics student here, but the word “school” comes from the Greek word skhole, or leisure. To the ancients, the chance to actually study something was considered a restful activity reserved for the rich or the fortunate. If you had the time to work on something besides putting bread on your table, you were incredibly blessed.

Today, when college seems like a right we all have, where higher education (or education at all) should be expected, we’ve forgotten skhole. To study and take exams — to even have the chance to do poorly — are blessings we must never forget.

So, the next time you grumble about the paper that your professor slashed to pieces, remember the blessings.

Hopefully, I will too.