Archive for 15 December 2010

What I’ve Learned in the Last 48 Hours

There seems to be a directly proportional (or close) relationship between pain and learning. Or at least challenge and growth. Our muscles exist as a metaphor for the way we are supposed to advance ourselves. With the tearing of new wounds comes the opportunity for new advances. Now muscle tears may be more acceptable or reasonable than psychic rips. The paradox persists that even though pain is an opportunity for growth, it’s no reason to actually incite violence or cause pain to others. A reason to not despair at receiving such pain, however, it may be.

In any event, it’s been a heck of a ride lately. My Dad would probably claim that there are larger forces in the universe that made, say, the 13th a really difficult day and today much better. Maybe so, maybe so. But I like to think we all have a little something to do with our lives as well. And so I present some haphazard collections of platitudes that I’ve gleaned or reinforced in an intense two days:

  • I made the right decision in staying in Jersey for this year. I had long suspected this, but this trip has fully confirmed that New Brunswick is/was preferable to the available alternatives for the annum. This is very exciting, because people often make the right or good decisions and never get confirmation of their correctness. I’m lucky to have such early affirmation.
  • Teaching something is like a mantra or a prayer that reminds the teacher of the value of whatever one is teaching. Conveying something thus has almost as much value for the one conveying it as those hearing it for the first time. This also makes teaching something of a religious, or at least philosophical, exercise.
  • Thomas Pynchon just isn’t very good. He’s clever and occasionally hilarious, but I suspect a great deal of his success comes from incoherently talking above the heads of most of his reviewers, thus being received as brilliant for surpassing his capacity to be understood. I remember the same principle applying to some bafflingly successful debaters back in the day. Also probably applies to a number of philosophers. The one redeeming trait he has is capturing the sentiment of creeping universal paranoia that those who are paying attention to the universe may get from time to time, but there are ways he could do this without sacrificing cogency.
  • Computers have gotten a lot cheaper lately. Thanks, Recession.
  • It’s good to be impulsive sometimes.
  • It’s often easier to feel good about life when the weather is terrible outside. There’s a passage in the middle of Watership Down about why humans like winter when other animals don’t – because they get to feel safe and secure and insulated from the dangers the season of bad weather brings. To expand this idea, it may often be easier to feel good in opposition to something than in favor of it.
  • Not just because of the above, Seattle is starting to look really promising for 2011-2012.
  • When in doubt, reach out.