06 February 2010

connections, transitions, strategies, etc.

In class the other day we talked about the parts of an essay - all the things it's supposed to do, all the parts it's supposed to have and what those parts should be doing, how they should connect to the other parts and work together to create a harmonious whole. By the time we collectively listed on the white board all of the parts we could think of I found myself staring at a shell shocked room of college freshmen. How the hell were they supposed to write one short essay that did all that stuff? I could tell they were thinking I was crazy for believing it was even possible.

The thing is, in essay form I can make things happen. It's when I start to think of the interconnecting parts of an essay as a metaphor for life that I begin to echo their blank looks of horror. So, bear with me for a minute. An essay has all these parts, right? Intro, body paragraphs, thesis, transitions, etc. And life does, too: bills, paperwork, friendships, food, health, children. The parts are not neatly ordered, and probably shouldn't be, but in some way that still have to come together and make sense. If one of them isn't working, the whole thing can fall apart, and the thing is, I'm not very good at some of the parts.

We still don't know what's going to happen this spring. So far the possible scenarios - which won't be decided on until rejection/acceptance letters arrive in March - are doing a PhD program for the next five years, moving back to the Berkshires and opening a restaurant, or staying here for one more year and then moving back to the Berkshires and opening a restaurant.

Writing an essay requires some forethought, some planning, theoretically some strategy. The thing about writing is that I feel like I can do it in any order that makes sense: sometimes the outline will come first, but other times it's the drafting, then the rearranging, then the outline in reverse that makes the most sense. But you can't do that with life; it just doesn't work. You can't just live it and then go back and pay bills retroactively. You can't go somewhere and then figure out where you're going later. I mean, maybe some people can, but I can't.

Probably this is all coming from a place of uncertainty, of not knowing what's going to happen, because of all the things I'm not so good at not-knowing is up there. I think I create anxiety for myself. I'm feeling pretty okay with the not-knowing this time, but then I worry about that: what does it mean? Silly, I know, but when I'm not worrying about the things I'm not doing and should be doing, I'm worrying about the things I don't need to do at all.

I try not to feel overwhelmed. I try to focus on what needs to be done and just do it, one thing at a time. I need a haircut.


Annika said...

Yes. (Also, I need a haircut too.)

Harvest said...

So, why don't you both go get a haircut.