Looking Beyond College

I started writing one of those reflective pieces about graduating college the other day. I was writing about what I had learned and was trying to pass on some inspiring words, which I think is kind of like passing a gallstone. If it comes out too easily there’s just no substance to it. What I really wanted to say is what I wish I could do now that I’m graduating. I wish I could do a lot of things, of course none of them are things within the realm of remotely practical possibilities.

I wish I could take another four years of college at a state school. The few times I’ve been on university campuses they’ve seemed enormous and intimidating. They’re a culture all their own, different from my private college experience, and I think it’d be interesting to spend four years there. Partly because I’d want to experience the difference between the Christian and secular environments. I’ve truly valued my time in a Christian community, even if it has seemed like a bubble. But there are times when you need to move on. Four years ago I don’t think I would have adjusted well at a state school. It wouldn’t be a walk in the park now, but intellectually and spiritually I’m prepared for it. I’d also like to do another four years of school because I’ve fallen in love with learning. I really enjoy learning stuff. Part of the reason it’d be fun to do another four years is because in this ‘what if’ situation there wouldn’t be any pressure for grades or jobs or anything. I could just take classes and learn what I want to learn.

But that’s all idealistic and utopian. You usually don’t learn unless there’s some sort of pressure. Desire will only take you so far, and when it fails, you’ll fall into a pit of laziness. And just because I’m dreaming about continuing school doesn’t mean I’m not happy with my future. I am happy. I really don’t want to continue school, because that would mean the pressure that I’m getting pretty tired of. I’m getting sick of projects and tests and papers. I know they’ll just reappear in a different form in the workplace, but that’s a whole other world. I’m not interested in going on to graduate school or pursuing another degree. I’m just fantasizing about learning.

And I will continue to learn, but in new ways. In two weeks I’ll be finished with classes and I can curl up with a fun reading book again. I’m really looking forward to that. I have a pile of unread books I want to dig into, as well as a mental list of books I need to check out. I have a thirst for knowledge, education, learning. Maybe I can pick up some wisdom along the way.

Stare at the Wall

Have you ever just sat and stared at the wall? I think we really need to do that more. And I’m not talking about just veging out. I’m talking about turning off all the distractions. Off goes the TV. Off goes the stereo. Off goes the computer. Put away the magazines, the books, the newspaper, the piles of mail you need to read. You may even want to turn down the lights. Then just plop yourself down and sit there. Don’t fall asleep (if you fall asleep immediately that’s a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep at night), just sit there and let your body relax.

Give it five or ten minutes or so and let your body completely relax. If you’re like me, your mind will be racing this entire time. This is pretty much how I feel all day. If your mind is still racing, you need to keep sitting there. Breathe slowly and stay put until your mind finally begins to slow down. You’ll stop jumping frantically from random thought to random thought and your mind will begin to thoughtfully dwell on things. Sound unfamiliar? Probably because few of us ever take the time to get here. I’d encourage you to take the time. It’s rare, but so necessary.

Christmas for the Spouse

I’m beginning to think that husbands and wives really shouldn’t buy each other Christmas gifts. Instead they should take the Christmas budget and have Christmas all year long. Instead of buying presents in December and feeling pressured, they just use the Christmas budget year round to buy each other surprise gifts. There’s no obligation. There’s no pressure. There’s no mad holiday shoppers.

I think it’s a brilliant plan. Yet what am I doing? Christmas shopping for my wife. Alas. I should have implemented this plan a while ago.