Sunday, November 1, 2009

how to survive grad school (part II)

I'm still not brave enough to write on the first page, but I've gained a lot of courage over the past few days and nights from realizing that they're all that I've got. This is life. Sometimes I forget, but tonight, I know I'm alive. It's been only a month since I've stopped engaging in ways that cause me greater pain, but already I've been gaining more strength, more time, more hope, and more light. I can feel it emanate in rays from my face, and I see the reflection of gleams from my skin in the eyes of my new-found friends. I'm feeling, finally, like I'm settling into a home again. This town may be small, but it might also be enough.

When I think about what I'm doing here it's painfully clear that I am going to school and working harder than ever before to learn. I've noticed my humble wings being weighted with more philosophical humility, but I also can sense that they are beginning to stretch. Opening up feels difficult and terrifying, but also like it's one of the only things I can do at this point to make it feel at all relevant.

So I keep going. I'm trying. And learning. And realizing more and more that when I open up the right book, even philosophers can make me cry tears of joy. I already know the pains they can give me when I try to write, but that may just be part of the process. And it's good to feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, and asking questions that do make a difference, because just in case nothing happens to me and I actually live beyond 23, I'll be happy knowing that by the end it was productive of something positive. That would be a bonus to the life that I would have already lived.

I have to note a shift in tone. This week, the week before that, and just recently life has felt increasingly heavy. There has been death all around me and it feels like it's getting closer. Friends' family members have passed away, then a friend of a friend got killed spontaneously in a car crash on the way to LA, and just today I learned that a guy I gave rides home to after rehearsal in high school, who I talked with about hardships in life, like being raped and finding the means to survive, killed himself this week. I saw him over Christmas break at the gay club in Boise-he looked fabulous, we danced flamboyantly, and I was glad to see him looking so happy.

I talked with my therapist for perhaps one of the last times last week and I said, regarding death, that we make a mistake in our reasoning when we think that we can gauge how near or far death is for each of us. It's not the case that the old and the sick will be next. Nor is it the case that the young and healthy have nothing to worry about (assuming that we fear and worry about death). It's not like we approach it on a linear line, always getting closer and closer the longer we live toward the imminent end. Heidegger said that we are all equally close to our own death. This is true. We think that if we flipped 100 'tails' in a coin toss that surely a 'heads' would be next. Especially another 100 'tails' later, the 'heads' seems more than over due. But this is not so. It's a 50/50 chance the coin will land on 'heads' every time it jumps into the air, and each moment, we are equally close to the mystery of our own death. It's always close. Always near.

And I guess that all of this is supposed to be a reflection that reminds me of how I want to live. Knowing that I could die any second (even though my erroneous reasoning tells me that it's not likely to happen, really) is supposed to convince me to take nothing for granted. To make the effort to have lunches with friends. To take trips. To dance on a weekly basis. To laugh. To put the books down when a conversation ensues with a stranger, or a friend. To look at the clouds, see that the sky is blue. To feel the sun on my skin. To smell the wind bring on the spring. To call my family. To write these things down so that someday, maybe, they will be known by others, just in case I didn't get to let them know myself. To go take a chance and listen to music in dive bars. To meet up with acquaintances for a night. To pour out my heart- it may be the last time it gets exposed to anyone at all. To give. To live. To love as much as I possibly can. To practice. To be the art. Once more. And again.

This means, also, that I should be sure to do my work diligently. It's not the case that I need to forego my responsibilities with the awareness that death could greet me in my sleep tonight. No! Rather, it inspires me to do my work more passionately. To do the best that I can. It may be the only chance I get. And I might not get it now, but if I ever get it at all, I'd want to be ready to make the gift worth it for somebody else. To bring tears to the eyes of another person whose heart responds with a deep 'yes' to certain phrases on bound pages, and who opens them up again for inspiration on nights when the reality of life sets in with ever more gravity. This is precisely what I have done tonight in multiple ways, as I have done on multiple occasions. So if I could be so gifted and talented and privileged to do the same for another person on some other day, I'd like to have proven myself worthy and have prepared for that exchange whole-heartedly.


1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure how you can live your life MORE passionately....I think you already have that covered.
    Moments as you've described...are clearly blessings for they do make us appreciate the simple gesture of living in the moment.
    I'm very sorry to hear about the recent deaths...especially the one locally. It's just not right.
    Glad you're still with have much to do on this plane!