I am up late because I should be going over a last minute oral presentation that I have to give for a group project in one of my classes tomorrow. I had to take part of it over, because unfortunately, one of the younger members of our group wasn’t performing up to par. However, instead of going over the power point presentation, I have been reading my journal circa 1999 and reading old emails and trying to remember what it was like to be 21 and irrational so I will gain greater sympathy for this member of our group. It isn’t working. Although I was 21 and entirely irrational and entirely incapable of reading between the lines, I also possessed something else at that time that I now lack for all of the rationality that I have gained in that interim. That something was this wonderfully sensing nature, that I lost at some point in time in my life when I stopped trying to feel things too deeply. In fact, I had to stop reading my journal because it was more insightful than anything that I have written in the past couple of years. This is another lesson of why people should think twice before they go to law school. You may gain the ability to organize a well-reasoned argument, but you may lose the ability to intuit the way you once could as well as lose the ability to find meaning in the most seemingly absurd of events. I am not sure that the trade off is entirely worth it. I mean, I may be able to prove my point in the most reasonable of terms, but what is the point if you don’t feel things as you once did?
A couple of Fridays ago, on PBS as a part of Bill Moyers’ show, they played an interview that he had done with Desmond Tutu several years ago. I watched it and thought of how Tutu’s book, No Future without Forgiveness, came out at just the right time in my life – November of 1999 after sustaining what was a pretty significant heartbreak in a most unexpected way. After seeing this old interview, I pulled the book out of one of my box of books in the basement and scanned the passages that I underlined at that time, to remind me of the good that human beings are capable of. I was so earnest and sincere at that time. Fortunately, I haven’t sustained any heartbreaks in quite the same way lately (nor do I hope that I ever will again, thank you David James), but I feel like I need some other Desmond Tutu moment. Just something that I read to be the exact right thing to help me back into that sensitive state of mind where I once existed. I haven’t had a book moment like that since perhaps the Erich Fromm phase of 2002. And I have read many, many books since then.
It is just these days, sometimes I can say something that seems entirely rational, but that can make everyone in the room think I am the most frightfully nasty person ever. Sometime since 2002, some strange phenomenon intervened that interferred with my ability to sense other people’s feelings as well. Perhaps I just stopped trying, for the sake of an excuse to persist in crafting this expectation of a perfectly rational world around me. Maybe it is the political climate of the country since 2002; Bush’s rhetoric about trying to create, through military means, the world that he views as best has affected my own personal interactions in an unconscious way that I would not have predicted from all of my rants against that precise foreign policy approach.
Maybe I just stopped reading that 8 year old journal because it reminded me that I used to feel so much about so many things in the world around me, that frankly, I have tuned out because I have become rooted in this practical existence. But reading it, I just realized how much I wanted to write like that again, but I need to feel like that again, first.