44 Days of Education


It’s been 44 days since I’ve written something, and quite frankly, that’s a problem.

To be honest, 44 days where I didn’t write something out of my own pleasure. For the sake of an undergraduate education, I have to sacrifice what I believe to be the most basic form of humanization for my own sake. At the same time, school has given me the illusion that I can use lofty language. That the thousands of dollars that I’ve spent on a tuition gives me the right to say whatever I feel is necessary, elevating me to a higher moral relativism that succeeds anyone else who attempts to read.

It’s kind of not true. In fact, I’m not any better than anyone. I’m just in that same old routine as the person that doesn’t talk too much in class, or that one person that blows their nose too loud, or the person that tries to say what they want to say but it doesn’t come out just right. I am one of them, and they are all a part of each other. Who likes writing essays for someone else’s digression anyways?

So for the last 44 days I’ve been trying to figure out what David Foster Wallace talked about in his Commencement Address to Kenyon in a speech he made in 2005. In that speech, Wallace attempts to posit a significant amount of wisdom through the idea of what Truth really is. For a bunch of undergraduates graduating, thinking that they have it all figured out when they really don’t (somewhere along the lines where I stand), he states that “the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.”

While it’s true that sometimes thinking on your own is the guiding light that you should abide by, I can’t help but feel that indoctrination of my professors yelling at me to “cite 4 to 7 sources” to drive at a point that I want to make. In the case of Wallace’s speech, I feel that there is a great amount of wisdom to draw.

For instance, I’ve been trying to really get through to a professor that I have this semester, really trying to get his attention to see that I have some great points to consider. However, sometimes the truth in such a situation is that some people just have their own choice to choose what they believe. In my opinion, this sort of education is that I am learning through a professor’s choice of his own beliefs and philosophies. If I choose not to do so, and focus more on trying to express my own thoughts and opinions, I won’t succeed in his class.

In fact, I’ll write out one of his assigned essays, thinking that I hit it out of the ball park, and receive it back with the dreaded red marks on each page that would make Edgar Allan Poe rethink if he had enough violence in his own narratives.

What I hope to respond to is not the people I have to respond to for a letter grade, but to my own self. At the end of the day, I am an individual with a selfish, instinctual need to make sure that I am okay, that I have a bowl full of oatmeal to eat in the morning. Outside of academia, I want to try to understand this Ptolemic center of being and realize what other things that I need to work on for myself. I don’t want to focus on the strengths so much, because to build an image of my own strength is subject to its own unraveling.

Outside of academia, I want to just explore what it is to use my voice and share it with others.

As a closing thought, or paragraph or two, I want to turn my focuses on the microcosm that is the classroom. It’s an intimidating place filled with other individuals who will make sure they have an extra step ahead of you. It’s a minefield that promotes a great energy that makes a person believe they are better than the person that is sitting next to them.

Just think about this situation. You have been sitting at a seat for the last 3 months, knowing that it is your place in the classroom. It is a comfortable place for you, because you have great sight of the board and you have enough space to participate in discussions. When you come in the next day, the guy that you have been having class disagreements with is sitting in it. And when you try to hint at the fact that he is sitting in your seat, he doesn’t even look at you. You cough, he looks deeper into his book. You scoot your desk, he scoots it further. You sit next to him with thoughts of loss. He sits next to you with thoughts of victory.

And even if you haven’t gone through that situation, think about how it feels to keep on raising your hand and not having Professor X call on you. Instead, she calls on Student Y.

Sometimes in these situations, you have to remember that the person who stole your seat probably didn’t think he was stealing it. Sometimes you have to convince yourself that the Professor didn’t call on you simply because you’re not in their line of sight. All of these scenarios could be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps be called unrealistic, but when you start to focus on the beauty of how energy and attention shifts outside of your own centric-mindset, you’ll realize that you’re part of a greater and higher mind. To exist in the classroom, behind a computer, or outside of the discussion, at times dehumanizing, can be an opportunity to change your mind and consider how connected you truly are with anyone around you.

You’re the center of your own universe, but when you take a step back, you see that your universe is filled with people other than yourself. In fact, that’s where the fun begins.