Sunday, April 03, 2005

Springtime and Poverty

Spring is here and I spent much of the afternoon playing with our yard when I should have been studying. That's just fine by me: it was a gorgeous day, and gorgeous spring days are designed to help one blow off studying for a while.

Gardening gives me a built-in way to exercise, and exercise is something I don't regularly do on my own (though I know full well I should). Also, gardening allows me to have several hours to think about a variety of things. I usually end up working out issues in my head that have been bugging me when I'm gardening. I'll never know why...but I've done that since I was a kid and it was still actually socially acceptable to mow your own lawn on the North Shore of Chicago.

I guess I've had lots on my mind lately, probably related to finishing my coursework this term and moving onward to the Dissertation stage (thank God). That's exciting in itself, and it's a little scary too. Sometimes I wonder if I've made the right choice to do this in the first place. I'm 33 1/2, and I wonder frequently if I'm "missing" some of the better years of my life by waiting around for time to pass and for me to finish up this degree so I can get my life back and really start living again.

Now I'm reading that last sentence and my initial thought is: "MISSING" the better years of your life?? Isn't that funny?? Do you know what I'm doing? I'm equating "living" with making money. Kind of disgusting, actually, if you ask me. What am I now...DEAD? When I first left my job in Virginia to come here, I recall thinking that I was nuts to give up my salary/benefits, etc., but what a good decision to just take the bull by the horns and really LIVE for a while. I was getting too mired in the details of my job, which in the scheme of life is rather void of true meaning. In a sense, part of me had died when working full-time as an administrator: the academic side of me. The creative side was struggling to find outlets; I found a few in my work, but there was not much room for creativity in that job setting.

So, I wonder why I'm mourning the loss of money at this point? Honestly, it's probably due to the early spring muck I was just raking up in my back yard, which made me think that if I had more money I would have a house on a flat lot instead of one on a hill that gathers mud and muck. Dang, I need a long stiff drink. Or perhaps someone to slap me around a little.

As much of a pain in the ass some of these academic hoops have been, graduate school does allow me the time to become aware of what truly matters to me. I mean, why in the world would I bother with this, otherwise?? I'm finding a dissertation topic that is really exciting to me, and now perhaps a chair who would help me along with it. Certain relatives and friends don't understand where the hell I'm going with this new topic, but I don't care. It's what I feel is right for me now. This is one of the few times in my life that I'm not doing what I believe I should do, driven by an external force. Instead, this topic is coming from my gut telling me this is a good path to follow. I'll admit the practical side of me is scared by this, but there's a deeper sense that I really need to explore this direction.

I'll try to write more on what "this direction" really is later on.

Interesting. In this case I think gardening helped to get my thoughts going, but it was writing this entry that helped me work it all out. Guess I should keep writing some more, and perhaps garden less?



John B. said...

Funny thing, when I was in college (and raising a family and wrking full time all at once), I couldn't wait to graduate and get into the 'real world' where I just had work to worry about.

Now I am in the 'real world' and wish I could go back to school full time!

We humans are a greedy sort of folk.

lemming said...

The grass is always greener. I miss being able to afford any book I wanted - then again, in those days, I had no one with whom to discuss them.

The diss phase is a hard one - you're neither fish nor fowl. I have faculty younger than me, and fellow grad students who are older. All of this contributes to the "is this real or not" feeling.

Joe said...

It's your life. That much, at least, is real. Admittedly, "real" don't pay the bills (outside of Brazil) but that doesn't make this "fake."

And if gardening makes the thoughts start, do it. Kind of meditative of you. For me, it's doing the dishes... I think great thoughts while scrubbing pots.

Rob said...

Thanks for the tips/support, y'all. I have a funny feeling our yard is going to be very well-tended this summer.