There is Always More to Learn (Writing 101, Day 5)

My younger brother recently turned twenty. On his birthday, we jokingly pointed out, “You’re not a teenager anymore, Sam. You no longer know anything.”

It’s amazing how age and study decrease your sense of importance.

Recently, I graduated from college and, if I learned anything in my four years at the University of Minnesota, Morris, it was that I am incredibly small. There is so much, no, too much to know. Even in my area of study, literature and writing, I feel like I know nothing.

If I decided to get a doctorate in literature, accumulating deep knowledge of texts and cultures from times gone by, it would take the majority of my twenties. Even then, my knowledge would be limited to a single subject—Victorian novels, Renaissance drama, Romantic poetry. I could study for years and years and barely scratch the surface… and that is in my field!

There are so many avenues I wish I could have visited in college. If I could go back, I’d up my Communication minor to a major and take as many rhetoric classes as possible. I’d insert a minor in Art History just because I love the subject. I’d delve into more History classes. I’d take another course in Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies, simply because the topic is culturally relevant and fascinating.

But college is over. Maybe I’ll go to graduate school someday, but that’s at least three years down the road.

Education truly is a gift. Through it, you learn how small you are. You learn that your point of view is one of millions. You learn to empathize with those who are different from you.

But academia is only one kind of knowledge. Now that I’m out of school, it’s time to pursue other studies—how to be a responsible adult, how to be good to my family, how to blog well, how to keep strong in my faith, how to take joy in every day. The biggest lesson is learning what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

The beauty of education is that it really never stops. Inside or out of the classroom, there is still so much to learn.

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Emergence of springtime

Because of the length of Minnesota’s winters, when Spring comes, it’s a big deal.

Immediately, there is a shift on campus.  Even though it may only be forty-five degrees, everyone is suddenly in shorts and flip-flops.  The mall is suddenly filled with students laughing, throwing frisbees, and even sunbathing.  The library is dead quiet.

Despite all there is to do between me and graduation, I find it difficult to resist the allure of warm weather.  After five months of snow, wind, and subzero temperatures, I long to abandon the books and soak in the sunlight.  I changed up my workout routine and abandoned the gym to, for the first time in my life, go on a real-person, non-treadmill run.  My body was (and still is) pretty unhappy with me (running is HARD), but it was worth it to be outside.

Last night, I drove to my Bible study in the next town over with the windows down.  My arm rested casually on the ledge, hand waving in the wind.  I blasted Cloud Cult and watched the prairie zoom by, not a care in the world.

Sometimes, it feels so good to ditch studying and soak in the sun.

I’ve become a hermit and I don’t even care

These days, I don’t seem to get out much.  It’s been a month since I moved back into the dorms and it took until tonight for me to actually meet my floor-mates.  I rarely see my friends anymore.

At times, flying solo is a bit lonesome.  I go hours without talking to anyone but myself.  It’s easy to let myself get all sad and mopey about this, but I do my best to remain positive.  When it comes down to it, I don’t really mind.

After all, life continues to steamroll by and I’m moving with it.  Even if there are moments when I wouldn’t mind company, I’m staying busy and thriving.  I’ve been working hard and am ahead on homework.  In the evenings, I’ve got Bible studies, prayer meetings, and worship nights to attend.  Between work and study, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the library.   I’m organizing a letter-writing program for college students and elderly in the community for a group project.  On Saturdays, I judge speech meets for the local high school team.

Then, there are quiet nights like this one.  The homework is done, library shifts completed, the meetings have been attended and there is only me, my paint, a jar of Nutella, and a Wes Anderson film.

Life, my friends, is good.

 

Day of rest

Sundays are the best days of the week.

During the week, I’m constantly on the go.  Pair that with volunteering on Friday night, speech judging on Saturday, and a visit from Mom… Sunday is a well-needed break.

My Sundays start by attending church with my old roommates.  It’s so good to set aside all my cares and rest in God’s presence.  It’s the re-fueling I need to get me through another week.  I love my church.  I’ve gone there all four years of school and it’s beginning to sink in that I have to start afresh come May.

When church is done, I usually make the trek over to the gym.  (I skipped working out today, though, ’cause it was -45 degrees and being outside longer than necessary was not okay.)

Sunday afternoons bring a balance of homework and relaxation.  I usually throw on leggings, a comfy sweater, and spend a few hours in the basement of the library pumping out essay drafts.  Today, I managed to snag the poetry room.  It was absolutely divine.

After all the homework is out of the way, I return to my dorm, make dinner, and spend an evening in introvert paradise.  Tonight, I’ll be snacking on chips and salsa while catching up on episodes of Arrow.  (I tried for an hour to figure out how to livestream the Oscars on my computer… it ended in failure.  I’m pretty cut up about it.)

Yes, I do stay busy on Sundays.  But, overall, it’s the most relaxing day of the week.  I can choose where I go, what I do, and who I’m with.  For once, I have control over my schedule.  It’s wonderful to have at least one day of the week to spend quality time resting.

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Studying in the poetry room. In my happy place.

 

What is your ideal Sunday?

 

The music of wanderlust

As winter progresses in Minnesota, the days grow more and more bleak.  I look outside and can’t even see the wind turbines due to the wintry haze.  All I can see is a slushy parking lot and a snow-covered volleyball court.  With a great deal of my time dedicated to writing essays and studying for next week’s final exams, daydreaming has become a constant practice.  Last night, I had a dream I was back in Austria, exploring in the mountains with my friends.

Days like today bring out the travel bug in me.  I was raised on cross-country road trips and fifteen hour drives.  Packing a bag, getting in my car, and driving somewhere far away just for the sake of adventure is incredibly appealing.

However, since taking such a spontaneous trip is impossible at the moment, I thought I’d share some songs that bring out my wanderlust.

“Down In the Valley” The Head and the Heart

“Transistor Radio” Cloud Cult

“Wagon Wheel: Old Crow Medicine Show

Happy Friday!

Weekends in Morris

Weekends in Morris are… well… let’s just say they’re not very riveting.  Let me elaborate.

The town has 5,000 people, one grocery store, and a one-screen locally owned theater that gets movies two months after they are released.  The nearest Target or WalMart is an hour away.  The place to go when you get the munchies at 1 AM is the Casey’s gas station because it’s the only place open past ten.  However, visit Casey’s at your own risk! It’s usually filled with sketchy townies.

Without a wide variety of places to go and things to do, my weekends are usually spent bumming in my apartment in leggings and an oversized flannel.  Which is fun for a while, but a BBC miniseries marathon gets a bit old after the fifth hour.

What can you do, then, to keep from death by boredom?

Stargazing is always a good option.  There’s nothing like curling up with friends under a mound of blankets and staring at the night sky.  If you go a little ways out-of-town, the Milky Way is especially striking.

Studying in the library is also a safe bet.  Meeting up with classmates to go over notes in preparation for a test or quiz always breaks up the day well.

There’s also the option of sitting around talking with friends.  But, if you’re an introvert like me, this can only go on for so long before you need to crawl away into your hole to recharge.

The nice things about weekends in Morris, though, is that by the time Sunday night comes around, you’re so bored that you’re almost excited to go back to class the next day.