This afternoon, I am sitting in the library stacks overlooking a dark and stormy sky out east. I can’t quite tell if it is raining yet here – my eyes are playing tricks on me. My mind can’t seem to calm down. I have so many ideas and lines of thought that seem interesting that I want to follow, but I’m having trouble setting an order to them all and deciding on a timeline. To rush or not to rush? Does time even matter? How about I just sit down and read forever?
I’ve been focusing a lot on my research this summer, and though at times it has been quite challenging, the reward of reading has been so full. I’ve been thinking a lot about all sorts of things this summer – social progress and objectification of women and the Israel/Gaza conflict and the whole schlep of negative news that fills my Twitter feed every morning. I’ve had to resist taking on personal campaigns to end apps that objectify women, and hold off on re-watching all of The West Wing just because “it inspires me.” I’ve accepted that there isn’t really a lot of method to the mayhem of my mind, that these thoughts and inquiries will always be there, flowing around one another in some sort of spiral of passion and emotion and achievement. Accepting it or not, though, I am still struggling with this compulsion I have to check out every book that is even slightly interesting to me because… well, I can only read so fast.
And we’re not even talking about fiction books. Books that you read because it is summer and summer is for the pool (right?) and lounging (um, mine hasn’t really looked that way?) and “summer fiction” (does Karl Marx count?).
Yesterday was the first night in a long, long time that I didn’t have a party to plan or an event to manage or a project to work on after I got home from school. I just put my pencil down when I finished my homework, and went on a walk with my husband. It felt really weird and strange to both of us because, even though we say it is the pace we want to live our lives at, we don’t really ever run at that speed. There is always a to-do list or a calendar in front of us because that is how we control our anxiety as a couple. It’s not very healthy so hey, we’re trying our best.
So here I sit. I don’t have homework tonight so WHAT DO I DO? Do I read that book my professor urged me to read…even though I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks? Or do I read that book on theory so that I can feel like I actually know what I am talking about in the class I’m TA’ing next semester? Or do I read that book by my mentor’s mentor… so that I can feel close to him now that he is gone forever? Or how about the one billion other thoughts that are floating around in my mind? OHMYGOD how do I fill the time?
I’m guessing the answer has something to do with being present. It sounds like there are birds chirping in the stacks above my head, and I’m guessing it’s not unlikely that there is a nest up there, really high, since this building was constructed by the WPA in the ’30s. And the sky is split in this sort of cotton candy purpe/blue/purple way, which is really dreamy instead of ominous. And even though I can’t calm my inattentive mind, I know that the root of all of this instability is that I am finally doing something that I LOVE and I am so excited about it. I’m thankful, is what I’m trying to say.
I’m going to try and sit with that for awhile. XO.