Something’s missing. I lost something along the way.
“Sometimes you get up and bake a cake or something.
Sometimes you stay in bed.
Sometimes you go la di da di da di da da,
‘Til your eyes roll back into your head.
Your mind is racing like a pro now,
Oh my god it doesn’t mean a lot to you.
One time you were a glowing young ruffian,
Oh my god it was a million years ago.”
Ever think we’re not going anywhere? Ever wonder why we bother trying?
“Prudent men are wont to say – and this not rashly or without good ground – that he who would forsee what has to be, should reflect on what has been, for everything that happens in the world at any time has a genuine resemblance to what happened in ancient times. This is due to the fact that men have, and always have had, the same passions, whence it necessarily comes about that the same effects are produced.”
-Machiavelli, The Discourses
“I’ve been dragging around from the end of your coat for two weeks
everywhere you go is swirling, everything you say has water under it”
I’m having a bad few months, and I don’t know why. Well, I know why, in the details, but I think it goes deeper than that… when I look back on the last few years, I think about the happiest times in my life: times at the lake house, Senior year [’06-’07], summer ’08, and, most surprisingly, the month I spent in France.
There’s something so true and real and happy about living in the moment. As much as I love learning and studying and the idea of being in college, all the work suffocates that instinct for happiness in me. What characterizes those times in my life that were so special? I wasn’t thinking about tomorrow. I wasn’t working night and day, or planning how to get my work done, or how to get ahead of everyone else. I was surrounded by people who were relaxed, laid back, and who took things one step at a time. I was doing things I love. I was working with my hands (photography, making drinks at Espresso Mod, working in the fields and the cellars at Clos de Trias). I was living and working outside. I wrote in my journal. I talked to my friends, my family, and my boyfriends about big ideas, big things, and love. I loved them and I felt sheltered, enlightened, and bolstered by their support.
What changed? Why is the now so different from the then? Maybe because I’m not doing those things anymore. I live in a bomb shelter called a library along the ice-caked shores of Chicago. I don’t take photographs, I don’t work outside, I don’t write in my journal, I don’t have anything interesting or enlightening to say except those vague or topic-specific ideas I put into my essays. We think we live the contemplative life, the “philosophical” life here at this university, but we don’t. We’re drowning in work, we’re too busy freezing, fighting off depression, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life in the meantime to ever have time to think, to draw, to garden, to make things, to write. God forbid we do the very things the philosophers we read in the Core tell us to do! It’s a hypocritical system, and after thirteen years of it, I’m fed up. They tell us to read, and don’t give us time. They tell us to write, and instead of writing what we want, we write about things they assign. They tell us to learn, not what we want but what they tell us we should want. Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist? I feel like one. But in some sense, I believe everything I’ve said.
This is why I yearn for summer. Not so that I can do nothing, but so that I can read what I want to, instead of what I’m told. So that I can study what I want, instead of what I’m assigned. So that I have free time to talk, think, write, and live. This is the paradox that is my life: I know what I want to do in the future that will allow me to lead the sort of life I want to lead. It’s the present – how to get through the next two years without going crazy, and while somehow not feeling as though I’m throwing away two years of my life – that confuses me. Unlike most people, I know where I’m going long-term, it’s the short-term that scares me. And I’m scared of losing a day, a week, a month – to say nothing of two years.
God, no kidding! School is such a paradox. Be creative! (But within our guidelines.) Think about things! (But finish your homework first.) Relax! (On second thought, don’t.) It’s like school has such good intentions, but is warped by the concept of “hard work”. I hate work! I sound like a lazy-do-nothing bimbo…But you know better. I just think the idea of “work” is like, bogus sometimes. Not all the time, obviously. Everyone has to work hard, especially if they want to support a family or support themselves. But its the nature of the work that bothers me. If we’re supposedly so smart and prepared for life, why do we still end up so depressed and confined by office and fluorescent lighting and school work and coffee…Why can’t we find work that we LOVE? Then it’s not work anymore, right? it’s doing what you love. And sure, it’s going to be hard sometimes, but if you love it, then it’s so worth it. And you can do you what you love, love life, love other people, live without all this stress bringing us down, preventing us from exploring our true passions…
I hope, for you and your sister, a life filled with dreams dreamed and realized, goals set and accomplished, vistas seen and traveled through, paths yearned for and journey’s ends reached. Life can definitely get you down, but I think you both have the right goals in mind. Your “formal” education is a means to an end…and that end is a life of learning outside the classroom walls, outside the confines of others’ demands and evaluations and expectations.
But, no matter what path you choose, you’ve got to get up in the morning and go to “work”. Whether you run a restaurant in an urban neighborhood or live on a vineyard, your success, in many ways, depends on the judgment of others–is your restaurant good? Is your wine worth the price? Are your photographs worth buying? Unfortunately, it all comes down to making enough money to live the life you want to life. I know you know that, but sometimes we just have to remember it. I want you to pursue your dreams, but I want you to accomplish them with all the smarts and wisdom and knowledge you can gain from your years both in and outside the classroom.