Sunday, March 6, 2011

how to become supercilious (or why I'm still me)

How to become supercilious in 3 easy steps:

-          Become disenchanted with the simple things in the world that inspire faith and wonder.
-          Overeducate yourself so that everything has an explanation.
-          Assume that because you now have been taught more you actually know more than everyone else.

It’s been a while since I’ve made an entry and I’m not sure if that can really be attributed to one main reason. It’s a mixture of things that all seem to happen at once and divert my attention from things that keep me grounded and feeling at peace with my world.

Trevor has been gone to Australia for a week now. I no longer have that adult outlet to share the stewardship of home and family and just simply talk to. Every time he has to go away like this I’m reminded that while I can function efficiently and keep up to the practical things of family life, I don’t so well on the emotional well-being end of the things. I think it’s because one of the defining pillars of my self-identity is absent (the relationship and what it allows me to be), so I’m struggling to hang onto that while waiting for the separation to be over. Two and half more weeks. It’s not so much a dependency as it is the temporary loss of an augmentation. It’s like having your sole means of vehicular transport taken away for two weeks – you can still find ways to accomplish most of what you need to, but it’s taken away the easiness of it so you’re conscious of the injustice of the situation all the time. You know you have to survive it, and you also know you can, but you’d rather not.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about aspirations. We all have things we’d like to do someday – things we want to experience to see if they will change us for the better. But we also have things we can’t seem to allow ourselves to do. We find practical reasons for why it’s simply not possible right now, or why it would be foolish to pursue such a course. And then there are those things that we wish for passionately only to have the natural adversity of life deny the opportunities. The human mind is capable of envisioning the most amazing things, but it’s also capable of tearing them apart in the very next thought. And it seems like that second skill becomes heightened as we age. We lose that hopeful imagining of our childhood in the capable comfort of adult rationale. It’s why people who dream of being artists and writers become insurance brokers, nurses, pharmacists, etc. But we know that not everyone does that or the world would have no dreamers. So what exactly does it take to break that cycle without starving to death or punishing those we love? For a lot of us the tipping factor is fear of failure. We can’t accept the possibility that it might not happen if we take the leap.

I spent two days in a library conference watching human behaviour and being amazed at the archetypes I could see. There were a lot of highly educated people there (institutionally educated and self-educated). Most of the time it was easy to see the difference. The self-educated people were largely gregarious, friendly, humble, accepting and willing to share. The others were often somewhat reticent and almost unwilling to share the full measure of their expensively obtained knowledge. Why should that be? There were notable exceptions, naturally, but not enough to convince me that formal education is always a wonderful thing. For years I have wondered if I should go back to school and get a degree in something only to back away from it. Largely it’s because it frightens me that I might lose something of myself that I value too much to sacrifice. And maybe that means I wouldn’t actually lose it because I would be aware of the threat all the time. But I shy away from that patina of self-importance that post-secondary education can impose. I like knowing things, but I also know that I like knowing things that other people don’t. And that is what scares me off. I worry that the allure of all that new information would swallow me whole and leave behind a condescending…professional. Horrors.

So I’m not doing it. Again. I’m going to keep being me and picking and choosing what that actually means. It seems to keep me happy. And I guess that’s really what I’m shooting for anyway.


  1. I made a conscious decision when I went back to school that I would not let my educational status change who I am and how I relate to people. It is a daily struggle in my line of work, but it is important to stay grounded so that you don't allow your ego to move into the "gee, ain't I groovy?" mode. Besides, I get knocked down a peg or two on a fairly regular basis by circumstances. Isn't it great how the Lord endeavours to keep us humble?

  2. My post secondary career is something that I highly value. I feel like it has made me so much more than I used to be. Not with conceit but with gratitude and ability. I believe this is possible outside the classroom as well. Learning is everywhere.