When everyone came back from Christmas break I felt a little lost and out of place. Everyone seemed to be solidifying their lives and then there was me. Exchange program applications were due in December and by January people began to discuss how different their lives might be next year.
I’m staying in Ottawa next year.
I felt stagnant, stuck, and immobile.
This isn’t about the travel aspect, although that is part of it I suppose. I love to travel. I am one of those people who loves the actual act of travelling and believes that the journey to a location is an adventure in itself. Some of my fondest memories from past trips, be they road trips or vacations abroad, are from airports, car rides, and train stations.
I originally thought that I would most definitely go abroad during my undergraduate degree but last summer I made a decision to not leave Carleton during my third year. I made this choice for a number of reasons that correlate with my future academic and personal goals – going abroad would throw several of my carefully laid plans into jeopardy. I also want to be here at the College of Humanities for my third year – our subject matter is always pertinent but next year will appeal greatly to my personal academic sensibilities.
It’s about more than the travel experience though…it’s no secret that I would love to move out and begin what others might classify as “My Own Life.” I am anxious and expectant for something – I do not know exactly what I am waiting for but I am waiting.
We finished our segment on St. Augustine’s “Confessions” yesterday and something struck me during our professor’s lecture. The last four books of “Confessions” focus on seemingly more abstract concepts such as memory and time. These ideas are seemingly unconnected to the rest of the narrative which relates the story of Augustine’s personal journey of faith but they are not.
It was his concept of time that hit me harder than I expected it to, after all it had not jumped out when I was reading it for the first time. He said, “The past is about memory, the future is about expectation, and the present is just that, the present,” (bear in mind that I am heavily paraphrasing) but the beauty of that statement still struck a chord within me. Expectations and memories are no thing – not nothing – they literally do not exist. All that exists is this moment. Life is made of moments.
This is an asset of the Humanities program – we have professors schooled in what they are teaching but they are also unafraid of exploring new ideas or theories with us.
Humanities is a place of self-discovery. Before discussion group this morning a HUMSCHUM of mine and I were talking about how challenging this year has been for us. We are breaking down, it’s simultaneously horrifying and exhilarating.
In first year many of us felt at home, relaxed, right – in the sense that the program was the right fit and that we were always right too.
In second year we are broken down. It’s a long fall. Comparable to the fall of Satan from Heaven perhaps, if you subscribe to any of the three main religious traditions that dominate the world currently. Second year is tough.
But it’s a process – life is a journey of moments. I’m working at it. I’m working at taking life one moment at a time. I may feel stuck sometimes but I have the capacity to change, to move, and that makes all of the difference.