Looking back through past entries, I am overtaken by a distressing nostalgia for everything I left behind. If I have learned anything, it is that I will never be completely satisfied wherever I am or whatever I am doing; maybe it is just human nature that so confounds the emotions, pressing us into eternal bondage, chained to ideals and illusions that will never come to be. I have chased these will-o-the-wisps for the last 4 years to no avail; each time I come up with a gem, it melts away before I can recognize it. In the end, the experiences remain - the memories that aren't appreciated until they are long gone...and so I am forever haunted by the double-sided coin of yearning and nostalgia.
Not that I would change anything; every moment of this journey has been of value, if only to open my mind a bit wider. In many ways, I am ready to graduate and move on; after 3 inhumanely intense semesters, I will lounge delightfully in the freedom from academic pressure, from that perfectionist bug that still clings to my innards. This current semester has also solidified many of the complaints I've been harboring about Bethel - in particular, its legalism and pervasive attitude of self-righteousness (which, I must qualify, only dwells - albeit forcefully - amongst perhaps half of the students) - all of which seem to reach a pinnacle in the dreadfully authoritarian atmopshere of Guatemala Term. Since all of the other students are underclassmen who have drastically different foci than I (I would explain this a bit further, but I'm afriad it would come out sounding thoroughly patronizing, so I'll resist that urge), I've spent the last two months feeling out of place and isolated. On the one hand, that's no big deal; I can handle solitude fairly well, and often appreciate it. On the other, I feel like I've completely lost touch with the group of like-minded souls who have drifted away over the course of the past year or two; even my boyfriend feels worlds away, despite our daily phone calls. So I absorb myself in studying Spanish, ticking off books from the pages-long list of literature I've been wanting to tackle, writing poetry, dabbling in Catholicism, listening to Durufle's Requiem every night, wandering amongst gardens and church ruins, and generally thinking a lot, trying to achieve that state we vaguely label "inner peace." When the other students witness bits and pieces of these behaviors, they vocally label my an "introvert," and perhaps mentally label me with other, less neutral adjectives, leaving me feeling as though I am some odd sort of freak - like how I felt in the 3rd grade when I was the only kid in the class to get glasses, and the others chuckled under their breaths at my expense. This is frustrating to me: I could name countless other examples in which the attitudes of Bethel students (and staff) have left such a bad taste in my mouth that I wonder why we even tout the "Christian" banner that only ends up implicating us further.
But there are plenty of other things that I have truly loved about Bethel - its strong social consciousness, its challenging academic standards, the more honest and open-minded stance of most of the faculty, and - although a minority - a sector of the most thoughtful, intelligent, deep, and truly loving people I have ever met. Overall, I think I would have been quite a different person had I not come here. Like most things in life, there is no simple newspaper-print definition of this amorphous institution that has cradled these past four years of my life; at the very least, it has helped attune me to the intricacies of the countless nameless shades that color this vast world.
And now, in only a few short weeks, I will face again the empty slate. I have decidedly rejected the law school option, which my parents are still persistantly pushing down my throat, and am now toying with the idea of teaching high school English, perhaps in the ranks of Teach for America. I say "toying" because I feel torn between two spheres: 1) the desire to open my eyes to the problems and desolations of the world, and try to do something, however small, to make a difference; and 2) the desire to foment my awareness in more intellectual ways, via life-long academia. The problem with the first resides in my lack of self-confidence; I'm not sure I would be suited to deal with, much less assist, problem students (anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that Teach for America is all-consuming in its arduousness). And the second is corroded by my love-hate relationship with academia: on the one hand, I get sucked into the addicting intensity and challenge of it, and part of me almost requires a constant intellectual feeding in order to keep boredom at bay; yet too often the pressure becomes too much and I find that I have become a slave to something I don't really care about. (Witness the countless quagmires I've fallen into over choosing majors.) I have also been noticing lately, thanks in part to my boyfriend's astute insights, that I lack virtually any viable decision-making ability. Something as simple as deciding whether to go read in the park this afternoon or come to this quaint little cafe to soak up some coffee sent my head spiraling for 20 minutes. Last week, after waffling back and forth for several days, I decided to head to the beach for the weekend with some friends; I ended up coming back 2 days early because I had not anticipated the unbearable, suffocating heat. In the past year, I have seriously considered the following career paths: teaching English in Europe; becoming an M.D. and devoting my life to treating AIDS patients in Africa, Albert Schweitzer-style; going to law school to be a human rights lawyer; pursuing an M.A. and eventually Doctorate in either creative writing or english literature; taking classes part-time to earn a teaching certificate; and finally, the Teach for America option. The year before that, the list included a professional orchestral violist, a music teacher, a theology professor, and a marine biologist. At least I have now, at long last, come to peace with the role of music as a prominant hobby in my life. I am still trying to discern the place of writing. During J-term, I had the pleasure of taking a class in spiritual autobiographies which, despite the cheesy title, offered me the change to write several reflections and to read something other than dry academic non-fiction. I absolutely loved it. Finally, I was back coiling up a thread that I though had been washed away by the inundating busyness of college life - writing. Although, looking back, I never truly quit writing. Sure, I didn't write 200,000-word fantasy novels like I did in high school, but I did manage to keep this blog going, to write for the college newspaper, and to occasionally produce a few poems or fiction tidbits. Since being in Guatemala, I've written substantially more poetry and journaled, but am still scanning the horizon for that enthralling bliss when an irressistable character stumbles into my brain and hammers to be squeezed out onto paper. I'm still awaiting that shudder of inspiration that used to keep me up to the pre-dawn hours, clacking away at the keyboard, completely absorbed in the world that was stumbling out from my head. Sometimes I feel like I'm chasing a mirage that fades whenever I think I'm getting close.
But enough of that nonsense. If anyone still reads this, you probably care less about the strange swamps that swirl about my mind (which reminds me - I just saw Mirrormask for the first time last night; incredible!!!); you're probably wondering what the hell I'm up to. In order to satisfy that deep-seated urge that just wouldn't go away, I decided rather late in the game to study abroad in Guatemala. Since describing these last two months would require several more cups of coffee and a power source for my computer (whose battery life is seaping away as I type), I will just sum it up by saying that I'm learning how utterly beautiful and depressing the world is; both full of hope and utterly hopeless. You'd think that would be confusing, and it is, but I'm also learning to be at peace with ambiguity, to stop trying to define and explain everything around me, and to realize that my little brain is really quite small and insignificant in comparison with all the shit and goodness that flows around me, much of the time sneakily unnoticed. I've been faced with the truth I suspected for some time: that there are no easy answers, no voice from the heavens to calm my doubts and fears, but that perhaps in the inanswerable silence, something untouchable dwells, already soothing the hurts and inspiring light.
"I made you with love. I've wept your tears. I've saved you from more than you will ever know; I planted in you this longing for peace only so that one day I could satisfy your longing and watch your happiness. And now you push me away, you put me out of your reach. There are no capital letters to separate us when we walk together. I am not Thou but simply you, when you speak to me; I am humble as any other beggar. Can't you trust me as you'd trust a faithful dog? I have been faithful to you for two thousand years."
-Graham Greene, "The Heart of the Matter"
-La musica de mi alma-
Dentro de mí existe una faceta sensitiva que resuena con toda la belleza de la música. La música para mí es más que una forma de expresarme; es como una ventana en el alma de la humanidad, de su condición en toda su hermosura y falibilidad. Es una fuente de inspiración y sustento que nunca se secará; en la superficie destellada veo como una reflexión de un espejo mi misma imágen que está obersvándome. Aqui, en este lugar tranquilo, donde floto en las armonías corrientes, la música incorpora todos los aspectos que residen dentro de mí: espiritual, emocional, y físicamente. Tocar el violín es una acción física que produce efectos que desplegan por todo mi ser.
El ritmo corresponde con el transcurso de los tiempos: de sembrar hasta la cosecha, de la primavera juvenil hasta el otoño maduro, y del amanecer fresco hasta el crepúsculo cansado. Cuando toco el violín una canción dulce y ligera – quiza la “Meditación de Thais” de Massanet, que contiene los cariños tiernos de amantes récien descubiertos - puedo sentir todas las alegrías que fluyen por la vida. Los sonidos pensativos tocan mi corazón como una brisa suave de la primavera. Cuando empiezo una melodía lúgubre y nostálgica - la “Elegía” de Fauré, que evoca un sentido profundo de pérdida - aparecen todas las tristezas y el peso del mundo. El instrumento abrazado en mis dedos llora como una poesía de sonidos bonitos y movidos. Pero la forma musical más representativa de mi misma es la fuga – la firma característica de Bach, que lleva la elegancia y majestad de catedrales ancianos en su arte helado: una mezcla en la cual se entrelazan la amplia gama de emociones y sucesos, sorpresas, el ordinario cotidiano, y todos los colores que pintan la vida humana. En esta música, descubro y redescubro lo que yo soy: una persona compleja, que no la puedo entender completamente, pero siempre creciendo y cambiando, guíada por las divinas manos invisibles.
April 9, 2007 08:49 PM PDT
I'm glad you updated. I've actually been wondering what you have been doing for the last 2 years or however long it has been since that last time I saw you. Remember when we played at that wedding for Seth, and we were talking in that hotel room about writing? that was such a long time ago, and yet it is still something you are questioning everyday of your life. I also think about the time we skipped class and slept in the ensemble room and talked about what to do with our lives. I miss that. There aren't many people to talk to about those sorts of things anymore. there really isn't anyone to sound off with. I have a lot to talk about ...go to the website womenforwomen.org , i find it very interesting. Also, if you are looking for ways to implement some small changes, visit the World Wild Life fund website. Not only are they involved with conservation, they are involved with sustainable resource practices and promotion of fair trade and humane working conditions. I have several more animal and humanitarian related websites that can help begin to make a difference. I know it feels like we can't do anything, but we can. We can do way more than we know. email me sometime and we can talk. I have the same gmail account and the same AIM screename as always.
|J f Z |
April 2, 2007 11:06 PM PDT
April 2, 2007 09:02 PM PDT
Nice to see an update from you. I do so miss your updates. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. I have yet another year to go. I am still trying to come to grips with myself and figure out who I am and what I want exactly.
I have discovered myself to be quite a malcontent, which sort of sucks, so I am still in the midst of figuring things out. The point is, I guess, that I get ya, Liz.
I hope that things go well with you, and that your trek down the road of discovery and self discovery moves you closer to where you may want to be.
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