At the moment, Ayla (that's my fantastic cat) is being absolutely adorable. Sheís curled up on my lap purring and her head is on my arm and sheís fantastically cute.
Speaking of cute, thereís someone I keep wanting to write me and havenít heard from. Grrrrr.
I like animals. They show me often that life is simpler than it looks. Maybe theyíre right. Today was terrible. This morning was terrible. I hate being irresponsible, even if I couldnít help most of it. Why besides that would I be sad right now? Iíve been doing my reading, going on fun dates, writing people in Gaelic which Iíve been wanting to do for a while. So most of the time life is going really well. Itís a gorgeous day outside. Ayla is still curled up ĖI love that girl so much. Iíve talked to S and T on the phone this week and havenít heard from either of them in so long. Itís spring break now. I have all the time in the world to work on my dissertation, get past part 2 of gwerse 10 (I at least got past part 1 finally!) and have some fun.
On the other hand, my room mateís leaving in May. Newness is exciting and not that exciting. I also still havenít seen our gta assignment call for fall 2011. I shouldnít be so worried. Iím darn lucky, right? I have an apartment and furry little ones and can eat everyday and I can go inside and not be too hot or too cold and I have clothes that fit and if Iím really lucky I could get a ph.d.
Iíve been wanting to put a gratitude sheet on my wall to remind myself that everything has a perspective.
Iím struck by how poignant it is to be thinking like this, with perspectives. I didnít grow up worrying if Iíd have enough. Iím on my own now,though. True, Iíve been doing all right by myself so far. But Iím doing so many things, and a lot of them arenít school related. When I think about what I want to do in my life, I start to doubt that Iím any good at philosophy. After all, I donít have the pluralist cool economic perspective that the political people have and yet I still want to do ethics. Whatís scarier is that I want to do other things too. I want to see the world, I want to maybe attend a creative writing program for a year or two. I want to take a Gaelic class at the U of A in the fall so I can learn more systematically and really so I can have people around to talk to in person. I want to finish this druid course and give myself permission to do that. Eventually I want to be married and have a family (so fall-back stereotypical and not what a modern academic woman should want, I hear them all saying.) I wake up in the middle of the night asking, why? Why would a philosopher want all these other things. Why would I care about other projects so strongly and then devote my life to other theoretical questions that are exciting but not the whole of living? The key question is, shouldnít I be content with what I have? There are people in fairly industrialized countries right now who probably praise some god every day that they even have a job. They donít waste time with what else they could be doing, or with thinking about how they donít like the job, or what they really wanted to do for a living. They just live because that feeds the children and themselves. Comparatively, Iím just this stupid spoiled brat who has the luxury to whine about anything at all. Of course nowadays there are tons of people in any country, even right here in Tucson (well, that doesnít surprise me) who arenít well off at all. So if I donít get funding Iíll end up taking out loans and nothing I ďreallyĒ want to do makes a lot of money. Anything I want to do takes some money. So I am left with, abandon all plans that donít involve the highest incomes. Then I watch all the dreams die. And then, as they float away, I am oddly not sad: because sacrifices and survival are inextricably linked and if youíve worked with or near nature at all, youíd see the green buds popping playfully out of the ground and the dying things seaping back into the ground. Then youíd see that growth involves dying a little each day. Then youíd realize that life is as morbid as you feared, and as beautiful as you hoped it would be. Youíd know about the necessity of being born and of being scattered and blown away like leaves in the dust. It is very easy to not fear dying. It is almost second nature to let go. It is also almost second nature to hold on, to live, and the funny thing about that is that when you are determined not to die or go under or surrender or leave the things, the people, whatever you love, you can only be successful by being okay with endings, with things falling away.
So I look at this stark desert landscape where I donít want to be, and think about those who canít ever choose what kind of environment they want to live in so the question never comes up and they never consider that it might be better elsewhere. I think about how survival is parched and sparce like that, the skeleton of a life. Usually itís internal to a person and her life, but when times get hard survival becomes a bit exoskeletal I think. We kind of get crab-like. All the hard stuff on the inside, and anything that could be ripped away stored safely so deep within us that we fear, after a while, that it is gone and we wonít find it again.
So I continue to ask why. I should: 1. be practical, 2. Only focus on my dissertation, and forget about everything else so I can finish as quickly as possible, 3. Decide once and for all to be the good little girl/woman/human and stick to the path I chose at 22 because isnít that the path Iím on? 4. Never consider what could have been/might be if, not just what I could have done differently but what I would do differently in the future, after now. Get the teaching job. Swallow the ďIím not scared that Iím really bad at thisĒ pill so I feel great about myself doing this and then 5. Are we on five? Wel, make sure to stay rational, undreamy, sensible, and realistic. The world out there is hard. Aspirations beyond paths that other people have already cut out for you to travel are off limits. You know the little kid toys that have marbles on wires and you pull the marbles around hoops and loops and such until they reach the other end of the wire? Thatís what you have to do. Stay on the course. None of those marbles can jump to the wire next to them with the marbles over there. So you act like your life is that deterministic and go the way you are expected to go and donít whine about it or the three fates will slap you around. Or at least this is how Iím seeing it at the moment. Because longing for things to be different, not necessarily right now but in the future, wanting something else, more, for myself, that is something a person with unlimited opportunities could dare to want. That person and myself no longer share the same body. Itís not like that anymore. So I change accordingly.
And whenever this line of thought goes through my mind, Iím sort of struck with an odd sense of horror and canít shake it off. And I think about great great grandmothers and want to fuck the system and follow my dreams because, damn it they did everything for people like me! And I think about the standard rational socially acceptable rules and I cringe from ever having thought to jump off them onto another course which, I admit, could be silly and I want to know who that crazy girl is who ever thought it was a good idea to get off the beaten path. Then there is the part of me who sincerely believes that there are some things that, if you donít do them, youíll spend youíre whole life having periodic relapses into ďWhat ifÖĒ and ďWhy did I notÖĒ and ďif only IídÖĒ. I wonder when you should forget about other peopleís expectations and go with the ďI donít want to die asking what if,Ē line of thought and just do those crazy things that you couldnít explain to a fellow philosopher if youíd tried. When is that choice dangerous and terrible, and when is it absolutely necessary, and how do you tell dreamers to stop dreaming. I bet theyíre still dreaming, even while dying.
I would not be scared to let go. Iíd be worse than scared. I'd go ahead and take the chance while my rational self isn't looking. I donít know why I am passionate about the things Iím passionate about, and sometimes I donít know where itís all coming from in the first place. But if I let go, that would drain away as if the passion stopped up a whole on me made by some crazy wound at some point and if I take that away all the blood will drain out of my body so I look lifeless and limp from misappropriated living.
Itís so much easier for people who know what they want and always have.. I thought that was me, too, once. Being wrong about that has made me realize Iím much more of an interesting person. Itís also paralyzed some part of my brain, the part that makes decisions and canít believe Iím not in the category of people who have always known what they wanted to do, to be. So I wake myself up with the question, ďwhy?Ē which is asked for all sorts of reasons. And I canít stand being divided about it, but the ďWhy donít you just do it all,Ē or ďJust tell yourself to like all of yourself and be done with it already,Ē or ďare you kidding, that happened in your childhood get over it,Ē or ďall you have to do is realize that all the divided parts of yourself are yourself so just be yourself and you wonít have any problems,Ē well these seem to me to be stupid or at least really ignorant/misguided things to say. It all misses the point. Which is why, I suppose, I understand why groups of people can act like parts of selves do. Nothing is ever easy, youíre born to survive, youíre not scared in the least about dying, you want to change but doing what youíve always done is the thing that always looks like the best, rational, practical solution. Youíd rather be broken then wholely isolated. Does it have to be that way for individual people though. Why? Why? And I think about what it would be to really make changes to acknowledge things are shifting, and I realize I wouldnít be able to go back, and the uncertainty of ďwhat if thatís a mistake too,Ē keeps me guessing until the day ends. Then I wake up wondering why, why. I wonder if happiness really is, as positive psychologists think at the moment, living a risk free life. I wonder what it would feel like to live on your own terms. I wonder exactly what it would be that Iíd do if I had every option in the world. Then I realize, I still donít know. I donít know because I never took the chance, never tried, never went beyond what is only expected. Then I wonder, is it okay to not know and try anyway?
Ayla is still on my lap purring and being adorable. I love that girl. Going back now to whatís actually important, whatís going on right now. There are these times to step back and wonder, and then there's papers to grade, dishes to wash, friends to laugh with, years to go by before I really find out what is possible or was only a dream I cannot follow.