Yep, another update. But I should be having some more substantial posts soon as I only have four more weeks of school before winter break. In the meantime, the work goes on. Still, I have some reflections to consider.
“You have to do what nourishes you,” one of my English professors said earlier this semester. The words have been close at hand the past few days. After a three-week low, I’ve started to pick up lately. I’ve gotten a lot of work done and have had some meaningful interactions with people.
In short, I’ve nourished myself.
I got the rough draft of my thesis done last week, and have been picking and polishing at it lately. Soon, I’ll have the final draft to turn in. It was a long, fascinating struggle.
Graduate school applications are moving along. I’ve had some great advice and encouragement, and as I prepare a portfolio, I’ve been digging into lots of writing. Today, I made progress on a long-term memoir piece and edited two short stories.
It feels good to be facing the page again, crafting fiction. The rhythm and texture of a fresh sentence that really sings is hard to forget. It leaves a taste that nothing tops. Language is a beautiful game.
Yesterday, I finished researching and outlining an essay for the Elie Wiesel Essay in Ethics contest, spending a day in the school library reading journal articles and leafing through books, plucking out quotes and examples to define and argue my topic: redemption after atrocity.
Essentially I’m analyzing how one can overcome atrocities, using the Holocaust, the Soviet prison system, Rwanda, and apartheid as examples. My basic argument is that the key for redemption is trying to build a better world for future generations, while trying to forgive or find justice in the past is often problematic. By looking forward, one can still find redemption in a broken world without forgiveness, resolution, or justice.
I’ve also maintained my book-per-week reading goal by finishing Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. It was a beautiful, wise book. Murakami’ been one of my favorite writers ever since I read Kafka on the Shore two summers ago. He manages to explore postmodern topics, like the alienation of the modern individual, grief, or existential angst, with engaging stories. The characters are dynamic, the situations interesting, and the writing pithy, yet poetic.
Sometimes he does have some repetitive motifs, but the words resonate and that’s enough.
Lastly, the play’s opening nights are approaching. In two weeks, I’ll be done after two months of rehearsal. That’s exciting.
Thus, in the coming weeks, I’ll be finishing my thesis, sending graduate applications, acting, and writing that Wiesel essay–not to mention my usual duties tutoring, completing homework, working at the soup kitchen, managing two clubs, domestic chores like cooking, etc. It’s a full plate and I’ve had packed days, expecting more to come.
But the idea of nourishment keeps me focused and inspired. It gives me fuel. I find myself less drawn to simply kill time or do nothing lately. Often, tasks swallow my days whole and I’m left with meager moments to make sense of things, but during those moments, even if I’m just staring at the stars, I feel grounded. I feel like I’m doing something, that I’m going somewhere.
I’ve held another quote in my head lately. A Latin adage atributed to Senca. I haven’t verified the source yet, but it goes “Ad astra per aspera,” which roughly translates to, “To the stars through difficulty.”
I know I’m working toward something as long as I hold to those stars, even if I can never reach them. I have dreams, distant but clear, obscured at times, perhaps, by daily tasks, but always there to be regained if lost.
And, like Sisyphus, the struggle is enough. Not everything we do has meaning, and whatever does provides the true nourishment that drives us. For me, it’s working toward those stars.