Friday, May 23, 2008

playlist: my graduation

i woke up this morning, the 1st day of the rest of my life, and i'm not entirely happy. i'm weak, i'm tired, i'm sore, i have a headache, and haven't really slept all that much.

i'm feeling lost, disconnected, somber, sad. maybe even depressed. the way you feel when you've lost something important to you and you know you'll never find it again, the way you feel when you're looking for direction and you know there's none to be found, the way you feel when you want things to make sense but you know they never will.

the weepies, world spins madly on : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4sa2HoXpsE

i know the reasons why...part of it was exhaustion, following a string of tough days of workouts marking a progression in duration and intensity. part of it was being drained, from a weekend of 100+ F (38+ C) temps during which i was outside almost the entire time. the major part of it, however, was the fact that this past week marked my graduation.

it was for my JD/PhD, meaning both a Juris Doctor (law school) and PhD (political science/international relations) from USC. technically, the graduation was just the PhD hooding ceremony, since i finished law school some time ago, but the occasion marked the conclusion of both programs in their entirety, and so served as the end point of all my graduate school life.

to some people, this might mean something.

but for some strange reason, it doesn't seem that way to me.

kina grannis, down and gone : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifc92iIYWgM

the typical perception is that graduation is a celebration, with the occasion identified by its alternative title of "commencement" as the start of a person's life, and thus one meant to be a joyous initiation to unexplored vistas of limitless promises and untapped possibilities. as so many people hear tell, it's supposed to be a time that is ostensibly happy, perhaps exultant, daresay even triumphant. shared by the graduate with friends and family and all the world for what it's meant to be: victory.

but it doesn't seem that way to me...in fact, it seems anything but.

ben harper, walk away : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9dHASa2Pt8

they say that graduate school changes you, and that you finish a different person than when you started. for many, these changes are reflected by the hallmarks they accumulate during their time in school: they find love, they find a career, they find new horizons that beckon them forth to explore. and the end result is the culmination of a degree carrying them into their future.

but it doesn't seem that way to me. i don't feel any different from when i started. and i did not experience what so many others have: i did not find love, i did not find a career, and i did not find new horizons beckoning me to explore. and the end result, while it did have the culmination of a degree, is not carrying me into any kind of a future that i can tell.

it's not a feeling of victory. if anything, it's one of defeat.

and unlike victory, defeat is not shared, but instead is held very much alone.

ben harper, another lonely day : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtoYKmmnyC4

admittedly, my experience with graduate school probably wasn't the most ideal, and didn't quite hold the same lessons for me that it did for so many others.

make no mistake, i learned all the things associated with the classroom: there was no end of material in the readings, class assignments, papers, journals, books, databases, libraries, speakers, and lectures to suggest anything to the otherwise. and there were all the things associated with them, and included in the experience of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowship grants, field studies, laboratory tests, theoretical analysis, screening exams, qualifying exams, dissertation work, and the final defense.

i fulfilled these lessons.

but there were all the other lessons unrelated to the classroom; ones yet so invariably critical to the graduate school process: the ones that dealt the more poignant, invariably profound, arguably real aspects of life and living, and the never ending conflict between the banality of mundane existence and the significance of the sublime in a universe of ultimately supreme mysteries...the lessons that show you there can be--there is--a better world, and that there was meant to be more than this we see to the true nature of our creation.

and it was these lessons, the most important ones of all, that i was not able to fulfill.

because my heart was broken. so many times, by so many people, in so many ways, for so many reasons...intentional or accidental, by fortune or by fate, inane and important, petty and profound, selfish and selfless. sometimes careful and compassionate, sometimes simply cruel and cold. but always painful.

and this is why i feel incomplete.

because i was forsaken.

because i waited for an angel, but she never came.

because i learned of the classroom, but i learned not of love.

and unlike love, the classroom is not shared, but instead is held very much alone.

ben harper, waiting on an angel : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4Me5btoCJ0

i'm trying to be positive as i can. i'm trying to be as happy as i'm supposed to be at a time like this. i'm trying to believe this really is just the commencement, the beginning, and that school was just a prelude, and that real life and real living is starting now, and that there really is something special and profound and significant and sublime to come ahead.

i'm really trying to believe.

but after all the heartache, i'm finding it hard. and at my graduation, all i could do was go through the motions.

i'm really trying to believe.

and unlike graduation, belief is not shared, but instead is held very much alone.

ben harper, happy ever after in your eyes :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmi3Dk1YAFI


i'm telling myself graduate school meant something. i'm telling myself it all meant something. the hours. the weeks. the months. the years. the lectures and readings and papers and exams and labs and committees and clubs and meetings. it all was supposed to have meant something.

but all i can think about is what i have lost.

in people. in hearts. in souls.

in me.

and what i have lost outweighs whatever it was that graduate school was supposed to have meant.

and i can only dream of what might, what should have been...and wish things could have been otherwise.

kina grannis, stars falling down : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPqBXEsfxU

i feel no sense of victory. nor triumph. nor achievement. nor fulfillment.

truth be told, i felt more fulfilled after Ironman. each one. there, at least i felt a sense of accomplishment, a sense that i'd done something people could appreciate, something that i could look back on with a sense of significance and grace for what i'd done and what i'd had to endure to do so. a sense that it had meant something.

in contrast, now, all i'm feeling is emptiness.

and it wouldn't be so bad were it not for the feeling that this is one of those turning points in time, more than just a milestone, more than just a memory, more than just a moment in the mind, but a point, about which existence turns and reorients itself to a new perspective through which i'm supposed to see the world...for better or for worse.

a point in time, about which the world will pivot, forever. irreparably. completely. finally.

and i can't control it. i can't understand it. i can't see where it leads. and i don't know if i even want to. there just simply is no clarity.

because i am empty.

shaenon, time after time : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OquI5mdDnqg

i know i can't relive the past. i know i can't undo the things that have been done. i know i can't find the things that have been lost.

in people. in hearts. in souls.

in me.

and so all i have is whatever it was that graduate school was supposed to have meant...and whatever graduation is supposed to be.

meaning that all i can do now is to look forward, and to do so with some level of clarity that allows me to find a life that was better than the one i had before...so i can make something of my time in this creation before it's all over, and make the universe a better place than when i first arrived, and hope that somehow, someway, some day can fill the emptiness that i've been left with by what my graduate school really meant...and by what my graduation really is.

a search for something better.

a search for the sublime.

so that i may see creation clear, and have its mysteries at last displayed.

chasing kimbia, every color : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc7rRa-_2jM

and unlike the mundane, creation is not held alone, but is very much shared.

i'm waiting on an angel.

just one.

and the distance goes on and on and on...

waiting on an angel
one to carry me home
hope you come to see me soon
cause i don't want to go alone
i don't want to go alone

now angel won't you come by me
angel hear my plea
take my hand lift me up
so that i can fly with thee

and i'm waiting on an angel
and i know it won't be long
to find myself a resting place
in my angel's arms

so speak kind to a stranger
cause you'll never know

it just might be an angel come
knockin' at your door

and i'm waiting on an angel
and i know it won't be long
to find myself a resting place
in my angel's arms

waiting on an angel
one to carry me home
hope you come to see me soon
cause i don't want to go alone
i don't want to go alone
--ben harper, waiting on an angel

1 comment:

Suzy Q said...

Do you find yourself stuck in the identity of a triathlete? of a student? of a single person? Do you think you have things to celebrate in your life?

Reading about you completing these awesome long term goals (Ironman races and graduate school) makes me happy for you. I hope you are happy too.