Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"I follow the night...

...can't stand the light." One Day I'll Fly Away, from Moulin Rouge, by Nicole Kidman

I suppose it's normal to have questions as a college student--questions about dogmas, and theories, and choices, and life, and authority, and religion, and people. Always, always about people.

I think it is less usual to have your questions written up in a book by someone who has decided to document your college because it is, as Hanna Rosin says, God's Harvard. I was surprised and slightly flattered--though in a sort of half-cocked way, at being called "America's young Christian elite." I never expected to be elite at anything, much less Christian elite.

I have always been middle of the road-ish. I mean, I take sides in arguments and put my foot down and have even been known to slap boys who were--what is the term?--"Fresh." But I am not a revolutionist, an activist, or a marvelous leader. I have always found there to be people better suited to lead than myself, and I generally am quite pleased to let them get on with it, and I will comfortably do what I do best in the background, or perhaps center state, but with very little real authority. I will be a voice or a mind, but never both. To quote Anne Hathaway, "I'm invisible. And I'm good at it."

I noticed this in the book, God's Harvard. I got it for Christmas, and just finished it--exactly 8 hours after I opened the box in which it was enclosed. I know, I know--nerd! But it was very well written, and I couldn't put it down. Especially since, as I read her words, I would remember being there, seeing these things happen, noticing her in the corner with her notebook or her bright, intelligent, interested eyes, watching us as we made our daily quota of stupid decisions. I am somewhat grateful that I WAS invisible, after reading it--for though she is not expressly malicious, she certainly does not pull her punches. But, of course, why should she? I no more desire that we "young Christian elite" be sheltered from her inquiring and blunt analysis than I desire Hillary Clinton to be treated with kid gloves in her debates. And in both cases, I don't want a chortle and a smirk and a "next question, please?" No. I want answers.

Yes, I sat on my bed--which was actually the couch in the library, since my room is currently the guest quarters to visiting relatives--piled high with spare blankets and my sleeping bag (sub-zero) with the cat (who is healing nicely from her surgery, by the way) nestled at my feet, making pilgrimages up to my face to make sure I didn't forget that she was here and was the center of the universe, not that book that I was reading and I read through the entire thing. In almost every chapter, she would describe a scene and I would think, with a slight jar, "I remember that. I was there. She sat in that corner and I sat in this. I remember wearing such-and-such that day. Whatever happened to that sweater, I wonder?"
She even included scripts of conversations in which I was involved--obviously very unimportant, as my words were never recorded. She changed some of the names (quite appropriately, as it happened), and I even would think, "Why, that must have been so-and-so. How interesting!

And it broke my heart.

Not all the drama and trauma that I already knew about--that is old news, and those scars are healing over. No, it was the bits I didn't know about, that mostly focused on individuals. I would think, "I had no idea that was going on! Oh, poor so-and-so!" And to think how blind I was when it was happening. And yet, looking back, I remember other things that were so clear, that I tried so hard to head off at the time, and either had not the experience, wisdom, or power to accomplish. And again, that intuition, or sixth sense, or people skills, or whatever you want to call it stood me in good stead. It is always a shock to read one's story from a third-party perspective.

But it does make me wonder. What in the world am I good for? I want to be a mover and a shaper, and yet, here I was in my own personal microcosm of the universe, and did I have a single, solitary effect on anything that happened? No, I did not. And I find that rather sad.

Anyways, that's the irony I found today...

and Merry Christmas!

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