Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Restriction of Time

I feel like I'm stuck a little bit right now, and just wanted to blab, but not really to talk on the phone to anyone (weird, yes, I know). Well, I would talk to one person in particular, but I feel like I can't right now. That strain is part of my stuck.

I realize that I have not written on this blog in more than one year. What a tremendously eventful year it has been. I've entered a new decade, have a new nephew, have a Master's degree, teach college, have entered and exited a relationship with one person a couple of times, have re-connected with the Source of Life (shout out to God), and countless other things which I'm forgetting now, I'm sure. Also, things are about the same: I live in the same apartment, have entered and exited a relationship with the same person a couple of times, still in school, etc.

Now, I want to write about... I don't know. I'm just stuck. I'm trying to read this ridiculously technical article on Spanish linguistics, about which I don't really give a flip at all. I'm home working on school stuff on Halloween (although I have a great costume that's gotten very limited exposure). I'm sad out of my mind about a certain someone, and now wrestling with what is in my heart and mind AGAIN, now with the addition of commentary from many of the other most important people in my life.

My all time favorite professor sent us this e-mail this evening:
Dear students,
I was stuck today by the fact that the music I played for you today was virtually unknown to you. Most of you have never been exposed to it. The Great American Folk Revival of the 60s took place approximately from 1957-1965 and coincided with the hundreth anniversary of the Civil War. The music that was celebrated then was a treasure chest of Americana: songs of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Alamo, nautical tales, regional songs, historical songs (Erie Canal, Mississippi River Boat, etc.) songs of the depression, of slavery, prison songs, drinking songs, gambling songs,immigrant songs, railroad songs, spirituals, Gospel songs, political songs (like the MTA), Cowboy, Western and Mexican songs, laments, period love songs, some early anti-war songs and some early civil rights songs, and on and on. These songs educated the population about our history and culture, but alas, I have to conclude that they have apparently been forgotten. You might be surprised to learn that this music was the rage on college campuses then. Informal music gatherings just "happened" spontaneously (called hootenannies), guitar companies could not build guitars to keep up with the demand, and professional folk groups gave over 300 college concerts each, yearly, until the !@#$%^&* Beatles ended it all. (Pardon my French, Michael.)

Many high school students have no sense of American history or how our political scene works, separation of Church and State, a wise thing, has become, in the view of some, an outright attack on religion, many traditions are being lost (like Halloween---only six kids rang our bell for trick or treating!), bland, generic terms like "Happy Holidays" replaces more traditional greetings (e.g., the word Christmas, among others, apparently may not be used in any official UT writings), and constitutional rights are attacked or abridged out of ignorance regarding why they were written by our Founders---the 2nd amendment a case in point. Fear drives some of this, ignorance the rest, and some people even talk of culture wars.

Is American culture in the broadest sense being homogenized out of existence? Is this a question discussed by your generation in any shape or form? I would love to hear your take on this, if you have any opinions. If you are free, drop by my office hours (MWF 1-12) and tell me what you think. Or drop me an e-mail. I really would like to know.

I want to talk about this with someone... with the people closest to me. It seems in a way, though, like the people closest to me don't have time to just talk about these kinds of things. We have to talk about what we're doing and where we're going and who we're taking care of and who isn't holding up their end of things and our progress and process. Even in school, we talk a LOT, but rarely do we talk about the things on our hearts, the things that make us who we are. These deep connections--I long for these deep connections. Now, don't get me wrong, I've got the world's greatest friends and family. But I just want to sit and sip a cup of tea and be in the coolness of this evening and talk deeply. I don't want to feel like I've got the restriction of time on me--it's just not very good. Maybe that's why I'm stuck. I've stuck myself (or someone has stuck me) with the restriction of time. I feel it in my veins, in my brain-- have to finish this so I can do this so I can get to this. Have to meet someone so I can get to the next life-stage, so I can take care of that before I whatever. I want these things, but is it me or time that's really driving it?

Time is pissing me off. I don't think I was made for time.

You know, that reminds me of my favorite book, A Severe Mercy. Toward the end, Vanauken writes about time:

If, indeed, we all have a kind of appetite for eternity, we have allowed ourselves to be caught up in a society that frustrates our longing at every turn. Half our inventions are advertised to save time--the washing machine, the fast car, the jet flight-- but for what? Never were people more harried by time: by watches, by buzzers, by time clocks, by precise schedules, by the beginning of the programme. There is, in fact, some truth in 'the good old days': no other civilisation of the past was ever so harried by time.

And yet, why not? Time is our natural environment. We live in time as we live in the air we breathe. And we love the air-- who has not taken deep breaths of pure, fresh, country air, just for the pleasure of it? How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it. We alone: animals, so far as we can see, are unaware of time, untroubled. Time is their natural environemnt. Why do we sense it is not ours?... If we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless, what does that suggest?

It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggests that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it-- how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.

I am absolutely relating to that at this very point. I wish I could share this with you, to talk about it with you. I would like for things to just be ok, to be healthy. I feel like it's not all me, or I would gladly take the blame. I feel like there's a lot of growth that needs to occur, and that a good chunk of it has to do with meeting in the middle. I don't know how that works with your definition of "compromise" or lack thereof, but that's mine [definition of compromise]. How did I switch to writing this to you? Oh, my, but I am a ridiculous case. Perhaps you are feeling it, too.