During my years of teaching at Alfred University, I often found myself holding a piece of paper known as a Drop/Add Form. With this form in hand, students petitioned their advisors and professors to permit them to drop a burdensome course or add a desirable one or otherwise navigate the academic system. In this way students learned to make judicious choices and take responsibility for their decisions. Meanwhile, we professors learned to use a ballpoint rather than felt-tip pen when signing a multi-carboned form.
So far as I know, Drop/Add Forms are peculiar to academic life. They are not to be found in any other line of work. But the need those forms answer and the process they represent transcend the boundaries of academia. Dropping-and-adding, it might be said, is the heartbeat of everyday life, whether the item being dropped or added is tangible or intangible, conceptual or concrete. Sometimes, as in the case of mandatory retirement, the dropping of a habitual activity is not a matter of choice. Likewise, the adding of an activity or device or medication to one’s daily round may be prescribed rather than freely chosen. But often the choice to drop or add may be more voluntary than one supposes, particularly if what is being dropped or added is a personal habit. And meditative awareness can play an integral role in that process, whether the habit be one of thought, feeling, speech, or behavior. (more…)