But for many students, hearing that their writing is incoherent or overwrought, that their ideas are inconsistent, unsupportable, or trite; that they do not have the chops to go to medical school; or, in short, that they are not the brilliant insightful person they thought (or were led to believe) they were is as devastating and enraging as the news was to Oedipus.
If you can, you should check out Erik Samuelson’s blog, Pub Ponderings. His post this week was on the question of “vocation,” something that we work with at Pacific Lutheran University (where I teach)...
You see, the concept of virginity was created for 13-17 year-old (mostly female) adolescents who were kept carefully under guard until they could be exchanged between families like fruit baskets at Christmas. You wanted them to arrive, unwrapped, just when they were getting ripe.
“How were the papers?” asked one of those students who knows that she didn’t put in all that much effort but hopes that being cheery about it will count for something. “Did you finish...
Nobody runs down on the wedding night with a sheet, points to a wet spot and shrieks, “Look! She just touched it and it went off like a Roman Candle! He’s a VIRGIN!” No, nobody does that. Nobody promises women that if they martyr themselves for a cause they will be rewarded with seventy male virgins every day in heaven, because, for women, that would be hell
But what I learned through those times, and have never lost sight of, is the fact that sometimes plans and opportunities don’t work out and that we always need friends, family, and people of good will to get through. I’ve had to work incredibly hard in my life, perhaps too hard at times, but I never would have made it without the people (and the universe) that gave me a break and a hand along the way. The myth of the self-made man (or woman) is really just that, a myth. It has it’s uses. But none of us really make it alone
I thought that Classics would give me a way to explore the history of ideas and culture like one might explore a city like Rome or Istanbul: layers replacing layers, each new stratum utilizing, covering up, or rediscovering some of the rubble of what went before, each a hybrid of old and new. But finally, underneath it all, there would be relatively solid ground. Instead, I found a Venice: a city floating on pilings driven deep down into the unstable muck, its foundations slowly shifting and buckling, a stubborn and tragic testament to all that is both wonderful and wretched in humanity.
I probably thought of having one of the beers I had bought to drink before heading to bed on a non-school day. The sun probably began to rise over Mt. Rainier, and as the rays began to creep over Hale’s Pass and the apple orchard, the sound of gravel startled me awake to face the telephone pole at the sharp turn at the end of the straightaway.