running on

There are certain clichés that I like, nay, love. For example, “What you don’t know could fill a book!” It was an oft repeated burn in response to someone admitting “I don’t know” when I was teenager. I find it especially funny considering that I now know for certain that what I don’t know could fill a library full of books, and a quite sizable one at that.

I love libraries. I love the way books smell alluringly musty sitting on shelves waiting to be discovered by someone new. My favorite activity in all of my college career was doing research. Finding book titles through relevant searches such as: “Whitman + Self.” Then hunting for them on various shelves, and narrowing my selection down to seven or so to take home after a quick perusal of the essays or chapters within them. Libraries (to me) are as sacred as cathedrals. I felt so blessed to be a part of academic life — a lone sojourner on a quest toward a literary awakening — at least until I had to actually sit still and argue a believable thesis from all that close reading and research that had been engaging me.

I hate to argue. In spite of what some people might want tell you, I do not enjoy making a point at the possible negation of another. Sure, there’s the temporal thrill over the possibility that my thesis is not total bull if it clearly contradicts another claim, but what I learned from some of my best professors is that it can be both/and, not merely either/or. So why muddle the sojourner’s awakening with needless arguing when she’d rather just enjoy a few good books? Oh yes, it was to have myself evaluated to see if I had learned enough about close reading literature to make a good point, which could only be rendered through pages and pages of (largely redundant) arguing.

I think that I was okay at it, all that academic arguing. But in my daily life, in human interactions, not so much. The temporal thrill came not at the expense of negating another theorist’s take on a good book or poem, but at the expense of another’s thoughts and feelings. And the points I felt I had to make came out in visceral bursts of (largely redundant) arguing.

I loathe redundancies. I try to avoid them, but, when I am least conscious, they spread unchecked in my writing (and likely daily speech as well). Re-reading my old journals, I have found the same lines repeated with pages and months and years separating them. Questions I ask myself. Answers that seem profound yet obvious. I don’t always take my own advice to be at peace with myself, live with gratitude and forgiveness in my heart. I want to remember this moment as I am — loving and joyful and grateful to just be.

 

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