For the Weary Student11:53 PM
I never liked spring semesters. I don't know why. It's only February. It's only the first paper, for crying out loud. Already I want to pack up my belongings and road trip back home. You can do that, right? Just quit the biggest endeavor in your life with no repercussions? Besides the fact that walking in negative-double-digits weather highly discourages productivity, I have no reason to quit. Bummer.
Spring semesters lack momentum. They're full of stop-and-go, red-light-green-light -- random bursts of energy during the only-kind-of-crazy weeks and unkickable lethargy when a paper's due. Yeah, that's me, crying in the dining hall at the remembrance of my unfinished philosophy paper. It's actually minimized on my screen right now: he will care still about the forms in the next life, for the forms, and not their material expression, is reality. That's my current reality -- Socrates' brain.
It's not the paper, though. It's not the nose-freezing weather. It's not the three-hour rehearsals or accidental sleeping in that makes spring semester so awful.
It's me. A brutal knockout between willpower and desire.
I have no idea where academics and artists come from. Are some people actually born with the overwhelming desire to sit alone in a library cubicle writing a fifteen-page research paper? Are some people hardwired to wake up at insanely early hours in order to fit in devotional time? Who are these people who still possess the energy, much less the brain power, to write poetry for the Tower Light? On some level, I get it. That used to be me, as a high schooler, pounding away at the keyboard with a million ideas, me locked up in my room thinking, and oh, yeah, that's me reading two books in a day. As a college student, I find so much entertainment in naps and Frozen Free Fall.
My desires are clearly not ordered to the good. (Sorry, Socrates.) So it becomes this battle -- I'm smart enough to know that mindlessly scrolling through Facebook kills the humanity in me second by second. I actually desire, on some metaphysical plane, to read deep books and ponder deep thoughts and maybe coherently express them in a paper. But on the surface, it's so much easier to keep scrolling and work through the guilt later. If my will cracks down and says, "Enough. Get back to the work of being human," the gauntlet gets thrown down. Full on mental brawl, Will and Desire battling.
I'm reminded today that this battle is real and hard because the best things come a at desire-crushing cost. I cannot seek God's face or get a good education or even write a great intro to philosophy paper without dying to my lesser desires. It takes emotional pain and frustration to battle through passion's lower order to satisfy its higher order -- the desires of godliness, truth, beauty, and creativity. Because I do desire those things. I feel far more fulfilled praying for thirty minutes than procrastinating for three hours. (Why then do I procrastinate so much?!)
So often I want to march up to my professor's office, slam my hands on his desk, and say, "I am done. No." I want to say that to God, too, when sanctification becomes especially hard: "I'm taking a personal day off to do whatever I want, God. Sorry." Not how that works. Since it's not how that works, I'll struggle on, inspired that God has called me to this life -- not even this life in particular but to life in general. The life of creativity, of love, of beauty, of holiness -- and all of that at a high price of discipline. He's called me, and it's His work in my life. I can't give up now. And I won't.