I have read most of the books I am going to read for my large paper (my exegesis, however, is another story – I am horrifically behind on that assignment to the extent I am blushing as I think about it, so shameful is my dawdling). The fifteen I have read about anorexia mirabilis, fasting in scripture and ethical eating in our contemporary context have been at times drudgery but for the most part as enjoyable as can be expected for the given topic. I am not only as motivated as when I started; I am more so. I am in a good place. There are not too many people who publish the source materials I have found to be ultimately necessary for my topic; neither is there an audience for them when they do. The paperbacks run between $30 and $50. Some of the texts that I began with I could tell were absolute junk by mid-preface. The ones I find useful I find useful in their entirety, so I still have out from the library. I know I need large portions of them – I just don’t yet know which portions. This terrifies me.
Of all of the things that people are reasonably frightened of daily, this is the fear that grips me in my world of five texts still to arrive and be read quickly, my hundreds of index cards that seem to perhaps, if arranged just so, hold within them the possibility of a paper deemed worthwhile – thus making me and this whole academic journey and even my horrible wrestle with anorexia deemed worthwhile – and just as it all begins to feel like too much I tell myself to begin somewhere, to be reasonable.
I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if no more than five people ever read my paper.
It does matter that I did make it through anorexia. It does matter that I have made it this far through school; that I am going to make it through this paper and even my exegesis whether I choose to worry myself needlessly with a false sense of inadequacy or not though it would probably go better for me if I chose not to.
And then I do something I really hate to do: I do some math. I realize that though buying the books seems costly and feels painful, that it’s cheaper than what I will pay in overdue fines for another three weeks (I already owe a tidy little sum).
Being unreasonable and letting my mind wander into the well-traveled dystopia of “what-ifs” is a sure-fire way to get nothing done. It used to be my favorite way to spend an afternoon, self-destructing for no apparent reason at all.
I think one of the hardest things I have had to learn recently is not only that good and bad things occur in the lives of everyone but that I deserve good things when they happen in my life. I used to accept the bad, assuming that I had done something to bring it about (never thinking it could just be what was), but when I got a good grade or some other recognition I never saw myself as in any way responsible. Certainly it was dumb luck.
What this way of thinking ultimately did was to disenfranchise me from my own power. I am, clearly, capable of both good and destruction in my own life. I have constructed quite a wonderful life and name for myself to this point with one hand on the wheel. It is laborious, clumsy and not without embarrassment that only now I am doing everything from writing papers to planting my garden and not seeing what grows out of these efforts as capricious and random but directly correlated to myself. I’ll let you know how they both turn out if you are interested.