Waltham Weekly 30
Go with the Flow
With increasing urgency, I'm realizing that life & the universe don't seem to allow for the concept of "at rest". I mean this metaphysically, as well as physically.
10 March 2000
Howdy Everybody, Those of you inclined to comment on my punctuality will kindly keep your comments to yourselves.
A long time ago, I was known for saying the phrase "life is". The main intent of this comment was to explore the intricate nature of things being either good or bad, but usually a mixture of the two & many other normative concepts blending together into inconclusiveness. I now realize that this construction had one fundamental flaw - the appearance of stagnation or even changelessness in the nature of life. Only recently have I discovered precisely how innacurate such a perspective would be. Life is transient. But even defining it by a stable characteristic, even though the characteristic itself is instability, is too stagnant to paint a valid picture of existence.
Life has been primarily good of late. I'm hesitant, especially after above diatribe, to put any curt summaries on the nature of my current state of being. However, I'm very close to saying that I'm distinctly pleased with the decision to return to this remote suburb of Indian restaurants and barber shops, rather than seeking (Pacific) horizons elsewhere this semester. That's more than I ever thought I'd be able to say, which heartens me quite a bit.
Some specifics are perhaps more entertaining than others. The specifics, for example, of my debate tournaments (exactly one per weekend, every weekend, without fail) are probably dull to most of this voluntary though capitve audience. So I'll spare you all. Those of you debating would appreciate them more than others, but most of you who debate know what's been going on already. In short, things have gone exceptionally well, both in the realm of success (including my first ever non-novice tournament win... at Dartmouth), & in the more essential realm of having a great time. Our team is building rapidly, with a lot of promising novices & great successes, making Brandeis one of the foremost debate schools in the country these days. & while there've been the typical personal conflicts here & there that always accompany productive groups (remember the Advocate office? Though I must question "productive" in that instance...), they've been able to be kept to a minimum. The 7 teams going to Tufts tomorrow is close to a school record & everybody's pretty excited.
The specifics of academics are, as always, vastly less interesting than nails. My math logic class has me convinced that all logic teachers ought to be committed & even my philosophy of time & space class has me thinking that, despite the constant myriad of changes in life & the universe, time must have stopped. Thursdays are beautiful because I have no classes. They're also beautiful on days like this Thursday just ended, when the temperature hits the 70's. However, this does give rise to an interesting quandry...
New England is perhaps the only place in the world where the temperature has absolutely nothing to do with proximity to sunlight. I mean, nothing. It's routinely warmer at night than during the day. Today was the warmest day since sometime back in October (& it felt like the mid-90's after this winter) & we didn't see the sun all day. It was cloudy & hot in the middle of March. Had the clouds gone, I feel convinced that it would've dropped to the low-40's. During our last major snowstorm, it snowed all day, but rained all night. Maybe you can explain this phenomenon to me, Schneider, but I'm utterly lost.
In any event, I'm not complaining. & the rainbow which framed Boston after a brief afternoon sprinkle today seemed to reconfirm the way things have been going ever since my fortune cookie last weekend blurted out "You are heading in the right direction". Not that I usually trust such minimal messages of encouragement, but when I found 17 among the lucky numbers it gave me... No, in all seriousness, there've been even more substantial signals that the remaining pair of months up here will be among the best I've spent in college. Admittedly, this is saying relatively little, but after re-reading some e-mails I was churning out a year ago, I'm certainly inspired by the contrast.
The specifics of my personal life are possibly of more interest than some other details I could share. For one thing, I seem to be finding more friends & getting to know a few more people. Part of this is through debate (okay, most of it) & some through poker night, which is quickly becoming a phenomenon beyond anyone's control. Our usual weekly game spawned itself into 4 of the past 6 evenings & the introduction of new variations & new players are rapidly increasing at breakneck speeds. There's talk rising of becoming an official school-sanctioned club, which would force (if nothing else) us to disguise our expenditures as "playing for chips" or "funsies" in order to avoid bucketloads of trouble. Especially when, as happened last night, a game of Schneider's famous "Expensive Sevens" (quite possibly the worst poker variation in history) yields an $18 pot.
Another detail, which I'm tempted to omit for a variety of reasons, involves one of those "promising novices" on our debate team discussed a few paragraphs ago. There's really not much at all to be said, even less if I don't want to jinx myself or heap unnecessary anticipation on my life. Suffice it to say that I've found in me, from a variety of internal & external sources (not the least of which have been Fish's advice & a second viewing of the fabulous film "Magnolia"), guts that I never knew I had. Those of you inclined to respond with the classic refrain of "gutsy... but stupid!" may well have cause here, but that is primarily yet to be determined. In a week or two, there might be more to say about this matter. For now, I'll move on.
But I will say something parenthetical to above matters, but applicable to far more. I've found a perspective, uniquely melded by the gradual conclusion of one of the most aggravating years of my life (my year of being 19) & the possibility of improvement & the buildup of a vast array of experiences, most of which have been gleaned from learning from others, that frankly surprises even me. I'm starting to find a distinction between taking things seriously & viewing life with a perspective of accountability & responsibility. I've always valued the latter & assumed that such things implied the former. But ever so slowly, like the movement of a glacier, I'm starting to question such a conflation. Simply put, I guess I'm "lightening up" a little. But I think it's just taking an attitude that sees a more balanced view of life. I'm trying to walk through life with a big picture viewpoint on small picture reality. I can't live my life ahead of my day-to-day reality, but if I'm a little more aware of the magnitude of the whole picture, then the day-to-day reality becomes much simpler to cope with. None of this is seeming to necessitate a sacrifice in the importance of acting with accountability, but merely some of the heavy weather that often surrounds it. This may be some form of temporary inanity (no, there's not supposed to be an "s" in that last word), but for now, it's making me feel better. Maybe I'm just trying desperately to duck being really darn nervous.
In any case, it's been a month of discovery. Turning 20 has, as expected, made me feel ancient. I'm taking all sorts of measures to make myself feel "young again". I didn't even understand adults who spoke about this until a few days ago. I think departing from teenage-hood, while a welcome change in some facets, is just freaky. In many ways, I feel that things "count" now... I'm even more poignantly aware of my shortcomings & wastes of time. Perhaps this is much of the spark for the loosening described in the above passage. In either case, all these things are adding up to make me & the world around me seem a lot more like jell-o. Solidity & stability are starting to wiggle... colorfully. I think this is a good thing.
Freez, I'll be (surprise...) at a debate tourney the weekend you've referred to. But I should be back by Saturday night - it's only in western Massachusetts. Of course, as Gris & Schneider can tell you, coming back from New Hampshire (about as far as western Mass) can take all night. So I dunno. I'll be around that week, though, if you want to stop by.
Gris, when's your Spring Break? I heard you might be planning some west-coast exploits... sounds groovy, though we'd love to have you up here anytime. Let me know what's the dilly-o.
Fish, let me know (as of one week from now) what Mattle's progress on finding Thief II is. No work for you! I tell you, what I wouldn't do for beads would just slightly fit... in the Grand Canyon. Sounds like your town is slightly dubious. &, oh yes, I am pumped. In that calm, cautious sorta way.
Jaque, dube-, dube-, dubious. You know what I'm talking about.
Mom & Dad, call me (if you want) tomorrow (Friday) night. Seems like I haven't talked to you two in forever.
Well, folks, I think I've rambled enough for one night. I guess I felt compelled to make up for the absence of the past few weeks, one that will hopefully not happen again. But you know me. I hope you're all having a fabulous time at the moment this e-mail wanders into your inbox... let me know how you're doing. Take care.
Peace, Love, Rampant Instability, & Hope (!),
"Is this not enough
this blessed sip of life is this not enough...
What point could there be troubling
head down wondering what will become of me...
the time is short
time that's all right
maybe I'll go out in the middle of the night...
but don't burn the day
-Dave Matthews Band, "Pig"
"You can see a million miles tonight
but you can't get very far..."
-Counting Crows, "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]