“We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion.” ~ Cyril Connolly

 
 1930’s One-Room School

                       

“You may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn.” ~ T. H. White, The Once and Future King
West Virginia One-Room School

Yesterday was Glenn Beck’s big day, his day of reckoning for the nation, his big “restoring honor” rally, which also happened to coincide with the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Beck’s choice of the historic date was a result of (in his words), “divine providence.” Beck, ever humble, declared that he wasn’t going to try to match King’s oratory, that he was only going to use talking bullet points, to leave room in case the spirit should speak to him.  

Wow. Megalomania, anyone?  

Talk about arrogance. I know that I make fun of Beck as much as possible, but I have come to believe that he may truly be crazy, not crazy as in I’m crazy, but certifiably crazy. A lunatic. Rubber-room crazy. I mean, just think about it: If Obama said that he was waiting for the spirit to speak to him, people all over this country would be talking about the POTUS’s messianic complex. But Beck? No, not so. Instead, people paid to go see this loony, and very few people wondered where the money was going.  

Big surprise: Sarah Palin was in attendance, offering her usual pablum. Is there a bowling alley or convention that she won’t attend? By the way, I wasn’t there.  

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ M. Scott Peck
Old Schoolhouse, Rockford, Illinois

So other than Beck, what’s been going on around here? Let’s see . . . Friday night/Saturday morning, I finally fell asleep at 8:30—in the morning. I’ve been particularly manic for the past week, driven mostly by the details of trying to get Brett ready for school tomorrow. 

He is registered for four classes, and I was finally able to get him a reasonable schedule. Since he registered late in the summer, not many classes were open for registration. I had to check the site every day to see what had opened as he really wanted to take the introductory astronomy class. Ultimately, he is registered for an introductory literature course, philosophy of science, intro to psychology, and intro to astronomy with a lab, for a total of 13 hours.  

He had been registered for 12 hours, but the astronomy lab added another hour, which means that we need to pay ODU more money. Of course. He’s been to campus a few times with his friend, and I took him one day last week to the Career Management Center so that he could get information on an on-campus job. That application is next up on the list of things to do.  

I’ve spent lots of time in the past three days looking for the best possible prices on textbooks, which, as a whole, as incredibly overpriced. His literature book alone is almost $100. I miss the days when I could get free books from the publishers. Anyway, three different sources, and books for four courses, totaling more money than seems possible: over $500.  

Geez. College certainly is expensive, she said not all ironically.  

“I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep . . .
Then I know that there is room in me
for a second huge and timeless life.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
One-Room School, Fayette County, Ohio (ca. 1910)

Last night was the first time that I fell asleep and stayed asleep while Corey was working. I was so exhausted from the night before that I fell asleep just after midnight. Did my usual getting up every three hours or so to let the dogs out, but never really woke up completely. Heard Corey come in around 9 this morning. His relief did not show up at 7, so he was late in getting home. That’s the second time his relief hasn’t shown up.  

Since I’m fairly rested today, I thought that I would try to put up a real post, with words and everything, not just vids from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” although what they said was far funnier than anything I could have said.  

Brett is very nervous about starting college, as I had expected that he would be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he settles in comfortably once he realizes that the experience is nothing like being in high school and that he will not have to deal with cliques and in-crowds unless he chooses to. That’s the wonderful thing about the whole experience of attending college: It is exactly what the individual makes it.  

At least one of us is excited, though. I suppose I’ve been doing all of this researching and running around to try to make his first week as stressless as possible, but I also know that doing these things allows me to hang on for as long as I can. My dreams of late have included Brett as a small boy. I don’t need dream analysis to tell me what that means.  

“If what proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge; experience, and creation.”  ~ Anais Nin
One-Room Schoolhouse, Miller County

I know that I have said many times that I would not go back to my youth for anything, and I mean that. However, I would love to be going back to college for the first time, only armed with the knowledge that I have now.  

If I had it do to over, I would go to a different school, and I would major in something else, like oceanography. I would also go straight through to my doctorate.  

Too bad that when we begin these journeys that we do not have the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. All that we have is intuition, and if we are lucky, good advice from someone who knows a thing or two. Intuition is great if you happen to be in tune with yourself, but how many 18-year-olds are actually in such a state? Very few.  

Advice is double-edged: well-meaning but having little to do with the reality of life, and well-informed but not necessarily what you need to hear. Our parents tend to give us advice that is in keeping with what they would do. Yes, it is filled with love, but usually filled with bias. My mother talked me out of going away to college. I’m not saying that I wish that I had gone to another area for school, but I do wish that I had been more selective in choosing which school to attend for my undergraduate degree.  

It matters. It really does, and I found that out the hard way. College students should choose their schools based on where they think they might want to go, but that doesn’t really happen. I remember that so many of the undergrads that I taught at ODU chose the school for its proximity to the beach. People choose VCU because it’s a party school. People choose UVA for its prestige.  

I chose ODU because it was convenient and affordable, but at the time, its English department was not what would be considered cutting edge. I once had a colleague try to convince me to get a Ph.D. in urban studies from ODU because as he said, “Any doctorate is better than no doctorate.” Wrong. I mean, a doctorate is great, but a doctorate in the wrong field from the wrong school—what’s the point.  

Brett is doing this first year at ODU to get used to the college experience, to get some of his general education requirements out of the way. With luck, we will all have a much better idea of just where we hope to be in the next six months. Maybe then Brett can choose a school that really meets his needs, and if it happens to be ODU, great; if not, that’s good, too.  

I only know that we are all starting a new chapter. Scary, indeed.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Joshua Radin, “Brand New Day”  

“All is flux; nothing stays still.” ~ Heraclitus

True Pathway of Life by Feathered Tary (Flckr Creative Commons)

                      

“Sometimes in life, from out of a myriad of prosaic decisions like what to eat and where to sleep and how to dress, a true crossroads is revealed. In these moments, when the fog of relative irrelevancy lifts and fate rolls out a demand for free will, there is only left or right”. ~ J. R. Ward
The Bamboo Forest by Trey Ratliff (http://www.stuckincustoms.com/)

My hearing with Social Security is coming up on September 16, and I believe that I am beginning to panic. After all, that hearing is going to be a live-altering event.  I mean, if SS determines that yes, I am in fact disabled, then I go on their roster of disabled people. It makes it official—government official.  

The fear of being officially classified as a nonfunctioning member of society is causing me to look at the job listings with George Washington. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, wandering aimlessly through job listings, thinking about what I could do.  

But time for total truth: Would I be able to do it—it being return to the job force full-time, rejoin the lot of functioning, productive members of society?I honestly don’t know, and probably wouldn’t know until I tried. But the catch 22, the big iron in the works, so to speak, is that if I tried and found that I couldn’t do it, then what? Start the entire process again? Would that even be a possibility?  

Hence, my panic. I remember my mother used to repeat a phrase when she was perplexed: “What to do? What to do?” Exactly. Précisément.  

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” ~ Lewis Carroll
Doorways Neuville: Number One or Number Two?

A person could go mad in the face of such a conundrum: choose to act, and the possible failure has innumerable ramifications, but choose not to act, and the acquiescence may lead to the ultimate loss of self.  

Search your soul . . . Let your conscience be your guide . . . In the end, you’ll do what’s right . . .  

Really? Seriously? Being in this position make me realize acutely why some people consult psychics, have their palms read, have a Tarot card reading: Just tell me what’s going to come, and I’ll know what decision to make.  

Sorry, but no. Back to that whole free will concept: Each individual possesses the ability to control his or her fate by choosing a course of action from among alternatives; whether or not free will is connected to moral responsibility depends upon the individual. That being said, the concept of free will implies being responsible for one’s actions as a result of being accorded the freedom to choose.. However, as most philosophers point out, the concept of free will is illusory in that whether or not the individual succeeds in carrying out actions decided upon depends on a number of factors beyond that individual’s control.  

Or at least, that’s how I perceive it to be.  

“Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing.” ~ Herman Broch
Stair Pathways on Hillsides of Valparaiso, Chile

The sticking point for me, then, is that if I do what I most want to do, that is, try to go back to work, possibly work on another degree, then I am subjecting my family to risk. That and the fact that I decide, but many factors out there loom beyond my control.  

The positives of trying to go back to work: 

  • Improved self-worth from feeling as if I am doing something productive
  • Increased family income, thereby helping to move us out of this never-ending miasma
  • Having health insurance paid for by the company instead of self-paying
  • Depending more on myself to get things done
  • Possibly feeling better when my mind has other things on which to dwell

The negatives of trying to go back to work:  

  • Working again and finding out that my body cannot tolerate the activity
  • Not being around full-time for Brett while he is beginning college, or being available to my family on a full-time basis
  • The costs involved in going back to work: purchasing another vehicle, travel, wardrobe
  • Having to go out on disability again and possibly not being able to get coverage
  • Having to pay back debts that were forgiven when I went on disability

I did not put having time to write on either of these lists as my experience in the past few years has shown me that I will write whether or not I have the time depending on my need to say something. In all of the time that I have been out on disability, I still have not put together my book, which is what I said that I would do. That in itself is telling.  

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ M. Scott Peck
 Pathway bridge in Saharna Moldova, by Guttorm Flatabo

                      

As some of you may realize, I write my way through, the logic being that as I put the words to page, my mind processes and sifts, allowing me to arrive at some kind of logical conclusion, and if not a conclusion, then at least a moment to pause. Having written about decisions countless times, I can say that at this moment, I am not more certain as to what I should do than when I began this post.  

No great truth has come to me. At least, I don’t believe that it has. I heard a homily or proverb one time that went something like this: If you toss a coin in the air to help you make a decision, pause as the coin is in the air to reveal to yourself which outcome you were hoping for. Kind of like truth in a fortune cookie.  

I know what I want to do, but so many things make me afraid to take this route, not the least of which is how much pain I am in from concentrating so hard on getting these words out.  

Best five out of six . . . any words of wisdom would be appreciated.  

“There are no prescriptive solutions, no grand designs for grand problems. Life’s solutions lie in the minute particulars involving more and more individual people daring to create their own life and art, daring to listen to the voice within their deepest, original nature, and deeper still, the voice within the earth.”
~ Stephen Nachmanovitch 

More later. Peace.  

Music by Dryer, “Seen Enough”