A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Memories That Are Worth Keeping

I was feeling uninspired to blog, probably because I have two four and five hundred page novels (Tales of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) to read by Thursday or Friday this week, and then two more novels and a bunch of theory to read for the following Tuesday. The anxiety, which I was hoping to manage better this semester, is creeping back up on me.

But, I thought maybe I would feel better if I took a little time to think about this quote:

"If a man lives calmly, without getting impatient, he has time to think and to remember. That way, he'll meet his destiny, perhaps. He'll live content, maybe. He won't forget what he's learned. If he gets impatient, rushing to outstrip time, the world gets out of order, it seems."

--from The Storyteller, by Mario Vargas Llosa

My world gets out of order quite easily, but if I'm going to spend another six or seven years as a graduate student, I need to learn to manage my anxiety. I don't want to spend that long with my world out of order, hiding behind stacks of books. The problem is, I am an impulsive, impatient person. I get excited about ideas and want to implement them right away. I want to do so much that I have unrealistic expectations for what I will be able to accomplish in a day, a week, or a year. I've got to learn to believe that it's okay if I don't finish something, or I'm a little late on a deadline. At least every once in a while.

I want to "meet my destiny"--some great intellectual destiny is what I envision for myself, I suppose, as a teacher and author. Also, someday, a mother. But I have a feeling that wasn't exactly the kind of destiny Vargas Llosa meant, and I also want to "live content," as he says. I want to find a way to enjoy being a student--I already enjoy the reading (well, most of it... maybe not some of the theory) and I already enjoy learning all the kinds of things that I get to study. It is simply learning to balance all of that with every day life.

I want to be able to enjoy watching TV, going to the grocery store, hanging out with friends. These probably don't seem like high aspirations, but you'd be surprised at how much I can enjoy chopping up vegetables to saute and pruning the flowers in my little balconey garden. Part of me wants to move out to the country and become a small-time organic farmer. (Except that may not be a good idea--I have a history of killing plants, even bamboo and cacti.) At any rate, I want to have small moments in my life. Virginia Woolf moments, I call them. Moments when I can watch the rain or stare at the patterns of sunlight on the tree leaves. I want to enjoy reading Tales of Love and Darkness, instead of rushing right though it and missing the beautiful descriptions. I want to make memories like Amos Oz describes:

"Living memory, like ripples in water or the nervous quivering of a gazelle's skin in the moment before it takes flight, comes suddenly and trembles in a single instant in several rhythms or various focuses, before being frozen and immobilized into the memory of a memory."

I want, in the midst of all the chaos and stress of my graduate work, to be living a life that poetic, that zen. I want to still be making memories that are worth keeping.

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