Monday, August 30, 2010

The Sound of Silence

I know it's only been a few days since my last post...but as I keep promising myself and twitter, I really do want to start blogging more often. And it's a lot easier for me to do now that I have a laptop in my room with me every night--when the blogging urge hits I can just start immediately before I lose motivation. And tonight, the urge is persistent. It's like this little kid tugging my sleeve and whining, "Kiera...Kiera...Kiera?! BLOG. Please blog. When can we blog? Are you going to blog? Huh? Huh, Kiera? Are you?! Kiera!!!" Obviously it's pretty annoying. And how do you expect me to sleep under those conditions?

I find myself quietly tucked away in my room this evening after my penultimate first day of school. It's been an unusually short summer, not as in it went quickly--though it did--but as in "it already freaking feels like fall even though it's still technically freaking AUGUST". My window's cracked open and letting in a cool, after-rain breeze, and the periodic sound of water slowly slipping off my roof to the ground pulls me in and out of my own thoughts. My room's a little chilly at the moment, but I like it that way since it gives me an excuse to pull out my (always comforting) lavender footie pajamas covered in penguins--these (the pajamas...not the penguins) have gone significantly unnoticed and unused since about March. I value times like these when I can just sit on my own and think to the noise of late-at-night-in-a-small-town.

Tonight I'm thinking about silences. Silence seems like something that's very straightforward: the absence of noise. But it's far more than that. There are many different types of silences. They each have a noise and a tone all their own within their soundlessness.

There are library silences and test-taking silences, where everyone is quiet because of an almost unwritten rule and social agreement that those are settings in which a low sound level should prevail. There are conversational silences--some natural and comfortable, some entirely awkward and nearly unbearable. There are shocked silences, and there are disappointed silences. There are silences that defy connection. But there are also silences in which communication and understanding are still taking place--in which words can become unnecessary. Tonight's silence is a relieved silence. I've made it through DAY 1 of the new semester and am perfectly happy to just sit inside while still experiencing the air from outside, knowing that everyone else in my house and most of the people on my block are sound asleep as I type these words.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs, which has a line in it about no one daring to disturb the sound of silence. But as those fabulous lyricists encourage, I do dare disturb the sound of silence--I add my own punctuating rhythm of clicking letters, making it my silence: a silence in which I express my muddled thoughts, but in many ways am still saying nothing at all.
Under-Appreciated Vocabulary Word of the Day:
lacuna (lah-kyoon'-uh) n. a blank space or a missing part; gap.

Random Song Lyrics for Your Entertainment (and/or Enlightenment):
"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence"
--Simon & Garfunkel in "The Sound of Silence"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Emerging Enlightened

As a college student, it’s pretty much my job to get really stressed out on occasion. School isn’t always exactly a cakewalk, and sometimes it’s best to just ignore my looming pictures of the future and focus only on things immediately at hand; the future is a scary thing to think about—I’m graduating soon. While I’m excited to be done with school, I’m not excited at the prospect of trying to find a job with my degree in English (emphasis: Literary Studies). I feel like my whole life has been leading up to this point where I get to go off and really show the world who I am—become a hardworking adult with not just a job but a CAREER: a life of my own choosing. It’s terrifying to think that any of the choices I’ve made could have been wrong.

But my thoughts continually return to my favorite class I’ve had to date—we’re not just talking my favorite college course; I really mean it is my favorite class EVER. I’ve had a lot of teachers I’ve loved and learned so much from, but this class has stuck in my mind the way no other ever has. The themes of it return to me all the time—it’s honestly changed many aspects of my perspective on life and experience. This class was my Literary Theory class last semester.

On the surface, it shouldn’t have been as life changing to me as it was; on the surface it just looks like any other university literature course—no, I take that back. On the surface it looks more pointless than your average university literature course. I confess as I read through the syllabus on the first day I couldn’t really remember why I’d signed up for the class beyond the fact that I’d heard the teacher was fabulous: the course description basically sounded like, “This class is going to be about spooky ghost stories in literature and the roles of the supernatural in our daily lives.” I was thinking it would be crazy and useless and asking myself why ON EARTH I was going to spend an entire semester reading and discussing the supernatural—that is really not my kind of thing at all. I don’t buy into ghost stories; I’d never become a “ghost-hunter”.

But for whatever reason (probably because the extremely clever and perhaps slightly eccentric professor intrigued me from day one) I stuck with the class. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

That class helped me come to a realization that I suppose I’ve known all along, but that I’d never given much thought to previous to taking the class. THE REALIZATION: We don’t have control over a lot of what surrounds us, only of how we react to those surroundings; the world is chuck full of chaos—chaos that’s nearly impossible to decipher. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, yet it’s our natural instinct and desire as mankind to make sense of the things we don’t understand. While in many cases this is fantastic—giving us new technologies or medicines or ways to accomplish things—sometimes we become so fixated on complete understanding and control that it tears us apart and impedes further progress in other areas. There comes a time when we just have to accept that we can’t control everything or know everything or understand everything—to accept the chaos for what it is—to willingly plunge ourselves into it at times and come away from it not fully comprehending it all, but feeling enlightened on some aspect of it…and knowing that that’s okay. “Willingly fling yourself down the rabbit hole and emerge enlightened instead of insane,” became the constant motto of the course.

And that was just the message I needed to hear. Now as I look to my not-entirely-certain future, I try to de-stress a little: it’s okay that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing after I graduate; it’s okay that school feels chaotic at times and that the real world is even more so. As long as I emerge from the rabbit hole feeling enlightened—as long as I come away from every chaotic experience having learned something—having improved myself—it was all worth it.



Under-Appreciated Vocabulary Word of the Day:

gallimaufry (gal-li-maw'-free) n. a hodgepodge, jumble; a mixture of diverse things

Random Movie Quote for Your Entertainment:

“My journey took me somewhat further down the rabbit-hole than I'd initially intended and, though I dirtied my fluffy white tail, I've emerged… enlightened.”

—Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009)