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.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thoughts at 3 AM

"Soon after we begin living we become aware of the confines of our prison. It takes us thirty years at the most to recognize the limits within which our possibilities will move. We take stock of reality, which is like measuring the length of the chain which binds our feet. Then we say: 'Is this life? Nothing more than this? A close cycle which is repeated, always identical?' This is a dangerous hour for every man." (Jose Ortega y Gasset)

Classes started up again last week, and of course I couldn't sleep. Running on 3 hours of sleep while you're trying to follow a completely new schedule is great, let me tell you. Ah, well... chronic insomnia--at least it lets you get even more homework done in the middle of the night! Except, I usually end up surfing Amazon for even more books to read. Instead of actually being productive, I like to create even more work for myself, it seems.

The anxiety wasn't really about all the new loads of classwork, though--I think I've finally adjusted to the fact that I have so much work. The reality is, in fact, that I will never be finished--there will always be more preparation for my comprehensive exams, more research to do for my thesis, more novels to read to keep up with my career's chosen and ever expanding field of study. The lack of closure isn't easy to cope with, but I think I've settled into a more manageable pace, for the most part. An acceptance of my state of being as constantly reading.

Hard to identify with? I'm sure. Very few people have to read a minimum of 100 pages a day in order to keep up with their workload. I'm sure I sound like I don't live in the real world--and in some ways, I don't.

But I'm sure that everyone has that anxiety--that "taking stock of reality," that "dangerous hour for every man." And that was my week last week, pondering some serious questions: what do I do about my family's health problems when I live 500 miles away? How do I make choices about my career--certain courses of research are more interesting and more important, while others will actually get me hired. (Maybe.) Will there be enough money coming in next year? Will I be able to get into a Ph.D. program right away? Or, will I need to get a job? Will I be able to get a job next year? What kind? After all, the whole point of getting a Ph.D. is that there isn't a whole lot you can do with just a Masters degree in Literature.

And then there's the thought at 3 AM that wouldn't let me get back to sleep: Have I really become that kind of adult? Up late at night, worrying about bills, obsessed with my career? Do I really like what graduate school has done to me???

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