The Pleasure of Completing Big Things
In the summer of 2016 I decided to finally do the work that needed to happen to complete a series of course videos for use in my AP Biology classes. Almost immediately, the project got back-burnered, thanks to my exit from the classroom that fall. Approximately two-thirds of the videos were left unshot and mostly unconceived. The decision to return to teaching this year brought the course video project back to the “immediate necessity” pile, and the thing immediately became my most urgent “creative” project.
Making a course’s worth of videos is a big project. This round was the third time I’ve participated in a process like this. Even so, I still found it basically impossible to really understand how much time and effort it was going to require until it was almost complete. But it is, now (almost) complete. As of writing this post, all course videos have been filmed, all supporting media and curricular materials have been created and posted online, and the only remaining work is the editing and posting-to-YouTube of the final videos in the series. Which might read like a big remaining task, but compared to the work necessary to find suitable, open-use media, sequence-design-animate supporting video slides, and then locate the hours in the day required to actually film the things, the digibot-level work of editing out my on-film mistakes is basically nil. In the “Could I die, and have this project completed by someone else?” test of project completion, this thing is done. And more so than being proud, I am relieved.
If you have ever worked to complete a large project, you are probably aware of the pleasure that comes from concluding it. The liberation of large tracts of cognition for other purposes is a beautiful experience. To not have to think about a thing that has occupied a sizeable part of your thinking for months (if not longer), is a distinct kind of pleasure. There’s a real sense of liberation, of freedom to use one’s brain for other tasks. You find new amounts of time, in which you can do new things (like writing blog posts 🤓). It’s a feeling that everyone should have at least occasionally, if only because it would mean that everyone is completing big tasks that are important to them.
That’s the point of this piece. It’s not intended to be self-congratulatory or otherwise braggadocious (though I’m sure I didn’t entirely avoid that tone). It’s about relief, the joy that comes from that relief, and the pleasure of having new space to focus on new things, or return to old ones that had been left behind for a while.
But as nice as that is, I think I’ll leave the giant projects to the side for a good long while.