Struggles of the Typical Kind

I have been accused of being a creature very susceptible to outside influence and environment. Well, we are all supposedly the average of the five people we hang out with the most, right? Here in Aix, I am the composite of people who live happily in their tiny apartments and cook divinely, of artists who have devoted their lives to absorbing nature like a priesthood, of thinkers who can see so much joy in simply reading a book or going to the museums. And sometimes I think, oh my goodness yes, I can live like this forever. Reading the letters of Van Gogh, then Delacroix, then some Islamic texts on feminism, then just looking at how complimentary colors are everywhere while sitting on the stoop of the school, going in a church and listening to the monks chant in this hazy dim lighting for a few random minutes. It’s a dream, it’s like an endless vacation and I know it’s going to end. When it does, it becomes my choice whether or not I want to continue living like this.

My father called me yesterday. Doctor’s orders to scale back on the work load, must go in to financial aid office to talk about student loans and grants, don’t sound so happy talking about art, don’t you want to give your children the opportunities we gave you? Don’t you think you should have responsibilities? (Why do people think artists don’t have responsibilities?) Of course I do. Of course a part of me wants the smugness of saying I have this full time offer from so-and-so company and feel satisfaction while their eyes widening and seeing the reverence in their face. Maybe that was a little too much of the truth but I know that that’s a stupid way to do life, for that look on someone else’s face. But to be honest, I think we all have these ugly sides of us that we struggle to get rid of. Acknowledging them, for me, is a step towards that. Even more, here, I don’t feel that need to project an inflated opinion of myself because I know that I am perfectly happy with the way I’m living right now, in this moment, indulgently for myself.

Everyone feels this high on their college study abroad. It’s supposed to be the “time of your life,” not real school but a party everyday. Maybe I’m disillusioned and should go back to chugging out emails and cover letters and resumes, in hot pursuit for a job where I’m counting down till 5pm every day… We’ll see how the over achieving, glory chasing atmosphere of UChicago affects me in a few months. Because right now I’m looking at a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with my art history homework and the old book fair in the town square.

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