passion and productivity in academic life

My Passion

I just got back from city hall, where a Bike to Work Week Proclamation was declared by our mayor.  As a believer in the many benefits cycling offers to individuals and communities I have worked to bring my city, Syracuse, several steps closer to being bike friendly.

I would say that I'm passionate about cycling (some might even say that I'm obsessed… and we know there's always a fine line between the two).

I love to be on a bike!  I love the exhilaration of moving at speed, the wind in my face, the feeling of propelling myself from place to place, covering long distances if I choose, and struggling up hills (well, I don't really love that part, but I appreciate it).  I like that it helps me keep in shape.  And I believe that getting people on bikes to replace short trips in cars, by creating safe bike routes for folks to travel on, can help make a dent in what may well become climate chaos.

Passion into Action

How this is transferred into action:

  • I am involved with an organization called BikeCNY (CNY for Central New York) and am the webmaster for the website. 
  • This year, we have moved into regular conversations with the Mayor's Office and DPW, moving forward each time.
  • I recently signed up for a charity bike ride, a 300-mile jaunt from Saranac Lake in the northern Adirondacks of NY State, to Preble, 25 miles south of Syracuse… in 4 days.  The ride benefits Special Olympics New York.  (Hey, if you are moved to donate to this cause, I would be grateful for your sponsorship.  You can do that at the
  • I ride for transportation, as well as for fun and exercise.

Passion and Effectiveness

Passion can be distracting.

  • I really would rather be riding.
  • What's the weather out there?  And tomorrow?
  • Oooh. A link to a new online video.  And it's only 8 minutes long!

But passion can also enhance effectiveness.

  • My challenge of riding 75 miles a day for four days has inspired me to be faithful to my weight-loss goals, now 20.5 pounds since the start of the year.  That much less to drag over the mountains!
  • I get to go out and train for my upcoming ride, but first I need to [fill in the blank].  I use riding as a reward to do motivate me to do the harder things first.
  • I am reminded of my strengths, as well as the sinuous course leading to success. Riding is not enjoyable every moment.  Much of the time, it takes concentration, concerted effort, and, when going up long, steep grades… against the wind, a definite willingness to endure discomfort.  Aside from making me "a better person," which I no-doubt need, my triumphs over these adversities remind me that I have "more in me" than I tend to think when the going gets rough in the rest of my life.
  • By "walking my talk", putting my energy into creating bike friendly roads and riding for transportation, I am living what might be called my true nature, living more "on purpose."  Being in creation mode contradicts pessimism and despair.

Passion and Academic Success 

Passion needs a home in YOUR life, too.

  • Do you wonder why you're still doing what you're doing?  It doesn't matter whether you are writing your dissertation, working for tenure, or teaching or doing research 20 years down the road.  If you're not connected to the passion that resides within you, your project — and your life — will suffer from mediocrity and boredom.
  • Does the spar of passion present in your creative life?  Do you know what it is?
  • If you do, great!  Take a step in that direction.  What can you do this week that will bring you a nudge closer to that passionate place?
  • If you don't know where your passion lies, it's time to find out.  And the best place to start is in your own past.  What juices you… outside of your work?  What used to get you excited (in a positive way)?  Where is that spark?

Beyond Academic Success

Are you feeling uncomfortable yet?  If so, I'm hitting the button I want to hit. It is my belief that the world needs you to be living a big life, stretching, taking on bigger projects than you think you can handle.

Tell me about your dreams, your projects, your passions.  

-Steve Reiter
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