I want to live in a book store

Last week, I took a rather seemingly rare journey to one of the local bookstores in the area.  It’s a rare occasion, because I know how I am– It’s my “kid in a candy store moment.”  My journey was supposed to be 5-10 minutes tops.  I was on a mission to find what I was looking for and walk out. Ha, who was I even kidding?  For me, spending time in a bookstore is like putting a  giant bowl of your favorite snack food in front of you and then saying “just take one”.   Might even be safe to say, it’s ‘literary crack’.   I love the smell of new books, their taut pages, the ‘snap, crackle, pop’ of opening a new book for the first time.  I love old books too, the musty smell of time, pages yellowed, bindings loose.  This is evident by the four large bookcases in my apartment which are overfilled with treasures–some I’ve even read.  This also explains the absence of cable in my home.

While at the store, I encountered a table of ‘reprinted classics’.  Elegantly bound, sealed and practically screaming my name.  Titles by Hans Christian Andersen or Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales and Edgar Allan Poe.  These are my favorite, even though I haven’t read many of them yet.  Their gold leaving and elegant bound hardcovers put me into a trance…circling the table, oohing and ahhing….

Forty five minutes later, I finally made it to intended section, discovering my publication was not available.  Not entirely disappointed.  I did get my ‘fix’.

Original thought…vanished.

I have just stumbled across the current video just prior to writing this blog, searching wordpress in the hopes of finding new ideas pertaining to my topic.  I was fascinated by the video’s animation and artwork, as I think it’s genius in itself.  But, the message also stated some very interesting points to ponder.  Particularily on the creation, development, birth and nurturing of ideas.  Something of which I seemed to be severely lacking in these last few weeks. 

But one of the questions/topics that Steven Johnson stirs is one that I have been pondering myself for a while, and have even written about it in other assignments is this:  With the fast paced and infinitely growing world of the internet, are we as a society truly better off?  We have allowed convenience to dictate our lives and computers to think for us.  Are we slowly eliminating the ability or need for original thought?  Have we chosen to extinguish the purpose of our own ability to think?  Consider the invention of calculators, or even cash registers of today.  They automatically dispense the correct numbers or change to a customer, involving very little thought of “counting back” the money on the part of the employee.  We are slowly eliminating the skills and abilities in order for our basic survival;  at least the ability to count back change from a dollar.  This is only the beginning…convenience foods, convenient appliences.  While they may be more efficient, would society be able to function as a whole if any of these resources were eliminated from our lives?  I for one, should hope to be resourceful enough on how to light a fire, even if I can’t think of anything worthwhile for my blog topic. 😀

A rolling stone gathers no moss

“To be complacent is to be but one step from decay”.  Gilt Proto, Lost in Space

We all have our reasons for going to college, whether it is to learn new job skills, improve on the ones we have, or to find our niche in life.  In any of these events, whether it is out of choice or necessity, we have chosen to improve ourselves.  It may not have been an easy step, but certainly an opportunity to go forward. 

I knew that when I decided to go back to college, there would be challenges.  Of course, this is all what education is—challenging a person to think better, do better, be better. This is the objective of the instructor and the goal of the student. However, I hadn’t actually realized in what direction those processes would take me.  I have always admired the ‘quick thinker’s intellect’ and fantasized that once I stood in the halls of academia, knowledge would osmotically infuse itself into my existence. Of course, this is not the case.  We are forced out of our comfort zones—socially, mentally and academically.  As uncomfortable as this can seem to be, it is not always a bad thing.  It challenges us to truly find what we are made of, what makes us tick, how and why.  It encourages, even prevents us from “in the box” type thinking and behaviors.  Not necessarily changing our beliefs, but discovering new ways of supporting them. Knowledge does not stand still, neither should you.

Time is money; get interested in interest.

It occurred to me today, that college attendees hold more than a single title.  Students not only become a sort of “ambassador” of the school, but of their education, which is always judged first on attitude and appearance.  How we dress is not only indicative of our personality, but also the very first words, gestures out of a person’s mouth—or the attitude behind it.  While we will never be on top of our “A-game” 100% of the time, there are those who perpetually complain about something, or have their two cents, regardless if it pertains to the topic at hand or not.  I should hate to think that this is how one chooses to behave in the professional world after graduation.   Why would one behave in such a way now?

From the moment you step onto campus, your instructor must become a salesperson, and we “the buyer”.  For blocked hours at a time, your instructor is pitching you ideas, selling you on their brand of educative thinking.  They are vying for your time and attention, and by the end of the class, hoping they “clinch the deal”.  Would we then, as potential buyers, sit back and half heartedly pay attention when purchasing a new car or house?  One should hope not.  Going to college and getting an education is just as an important investment as purchasing a car or house.  Never seal the deal without , all of your info.  Pay attention and be prepared.  Your returns will always be greater than your initial investment.

Derailed

What does a person do when a serious issue that needs controlling pops into their life, and yet it is beyond the scope of their control?  When things need your attention, advice, intervention and you’re six hundred miles from the vortex of the crisis; but still dead center of the storm?  Worry…it’s all a person can do.  Every piece of “sound psychological advice” tells me that I can’t do anything, because it’s out of my control.  Unfortunately, worry is much more than a distraction.  It’s a debilitator.  It paralyzes you, pulls you in directions so far off course, that you forget the direction and purpose of your journey.  It forgets deadlines. 

We all have these things that pop up in life, and when it does it can almost literally suck the very life out of a person.  Right now, I seem to be in the eye of that storm because of a particular family issue.  I’m torn in all kinds of directions, but can’t move.  Needless to say, my focus hasn’t been on my schoolwork.  No insightful, “wax poetic” words of wisdom for today.  No matter how much energy, intention, focus a student has for academic excellence, sometimes when traveling on the stepping stones of life they slip off the rock and fall back to step one.  I know I need to get up.  I have to get up.  Ironically, the future of this particular family issue depends on my success in the next two years.  I don’t know if life will wait that long.

Ens rationis; ergo sum cogito: “I think therefore I am”

An epiphany, a flash of clarity; sparks of neurons finally connecting even if only a millisecond. The very second where your “a-ha moment” turns into your “halleluiah song.”  That’s what it’s like when you for that particular moment in time, finally “get it”.  The matrix of questions, problems and scenarios that you’ve worked on hours on end, while burning both ends of the candle and melting the middle at the same time.  Yes, they are the same problems that you had lost sleep over, maybe even hair over.  We’ve all been there at some point or another.  I can take consolation that even great inventors, writers, composers, and artists have all had “writers’ block”, or what I would call “thinkers’ block”. 

While we all experience these certain vexations at one time or another, I believe that only other non-traditional student can truly appreciate this elevated stratum of complexities that only someone who has been out of school for any particular time face.  I have joked over the years and even with some partial sincerity that my “brain has atrophied” from not using it.  Studies have shown that the brain, like any other muscle, becomes weak and flabby from lack of “intellectual exercise.” My Model-T Ford brain has been cranking for about six weeks running on empty.  This week, I think the cranking has paid off.  I had my “spark of enlightenment.”  I may not be running on all six cylinders yet, but it’s far from being parked.

(Wo)man of Constant Sorrow

“I don’t mind you having an education; as long as it doesn’t interfere with your thinking.”  Lorne “Ben Cartwright” Green in Bonanza

Being in college doesn’t automatically translate into thinking.  Rather, it doesn’t always translate into learning.  Our brains are in a perpetual motion of thinking, but are we really learning something?  Where are our minds while our bodies are in class?

Today, I am posting a virtual plea for my fellow classmates who are so anxious to leave their classes on a daily basis nearly fifteen minutes before class ends. They’re assembling papers, packing books and digging feet into the floor as if at a starter’s block of a marathon.  Then comes the intermittent stream sighs from said students, imitating a slow leak on a bike tire.  Merely showing up and gracing the class with your presence, annoying impatience and all—is hardly considerate to those who actually are there to learn.  Unless you are a genius, bored with the curriculum, you have to suck it up with the rest of us who are mere mortals.  Despite the reason you’ve chosen to attend college; whether it is out of necessity, or just considered a “rite of passage” into adulthood—face it: you’re here to learn. 

Maybe I’m just a crabby old girl with terrible writer’s block.  However, I’m not the only non-traditional student who has the same lament.  Young geniuses: embrace the fullness of your educational opportunity–down to its very last second. Your moment of learning is now.

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