Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Teacher

Sometime in my school years, I was blessed with an excellent teacher. From this person, whom I admire very much, I learned things which I never could have comprehended otherwise. I can say with confidence now that no one in my life up to this point had ever made me feel so understood as this teacher. Being understood is an emotional thing for me, and when I see an interaction between two people who really understand one another, I always feel deeply moved. It's difficult for me to suppress tears in the situations where one of these persons is myself.

I admire this person for many reasons, and many of the qualities so plentiful in in her are lacking in myself. Despite this, I've never felt envious of this person. I often lament my inability to focus -- especially during study of more quantitative measures. My teacher is an expert mathematician. I feel embarrassed at my lack of ability to read body language and assert myself in front of others. My teacher was as sensitive and as emphatic as she needed to be -- never more nor less.

Something which touches me especially was her calculated silence when I expressed bad ideas. I know that there were lots of them. And yet, this teacher of mine was silent, and let me figure my own mistakes out as I made them. I was never made to feel silly or dull, unless I did it to myself. Which I did... often. As a teen I was pugnacious, vulgar and crass. I was upset. I was confused. Teenage-hood is a difficult time for all of us.

There's a specific scene in the Magic Flute where Tamino enters a door and comes upon a tutor with two students. The tutor explains that Tamino's journey will be near impossible, but the reward awaiting him is worth the struggle. It is exactly this sentiment which was expressed it me, and I'm holding it close to my heart lately. At the end of our last year together, my teacher gave me a letter with the most heartwarming sentiments which have ever been written to me. In it, she recognized that I was different, and would be different for the remainder of my life. She cautioned me that I would be lonely. This she did in the most tactful and gentle manner, probably because she was well-aware of the hypersensitivity of adolescent girls. And yet, she also included a ray of light, a crack through which the light gets in. There would be others like me, not often, but there would be. And that I had a life ahead which is full of thoughts, and ideas, and emotion. To my young self, these three things composed my entire inner life. The notion that my time would be filled with these was overwhelming and joyous. She was the first in a line of few with whom I felt understood.

While my communication with this person now is infrequent and brief, we do recognize one another as kindred spirits. It is always a pleasure for me to discover that we have been reading the same book, or enjoying the same music. I hope that we will continue to reflect back towards one another as time goes on and I begin to grow into myself.

Thursday, 3 April 2014


It is nearing the end of my third year of university. When I think back on the things that I used to think, and the ideas that I held, and all of my sacred cows from my first year and backward, I feel a bit embarrassed. There's also a small sense of pride knowing that I've come this far and am nearing the finish line. I've got a grad school lined up for in a few years, as I plan to travel in the midterm before moving on to bigger and more specific things.

I've picked up a new, and quite beautiful hobby. Butterfly collecting. Someday when I have children I'll bring them all sorts of intricate, delicate things that come out of nature. I can imagine them admiring the tiny things and finding all that is special about them. There will be feather collections, seashell collections, and stone collections. Colourful leaves and soft-textured fur. Flowers of every shape and scent and hue.

I feel as though this collection is a grown-up version. It's good for me, I think, because moving the wings into position is an exercise in extreme caution and saint-like patience. In fact, all of my butterflies so far have been sub-par... I keep accidentally rubbing the scales off. Hopefully more practice will give way to increased patience, and the lepidoptera will benefit by looking more and more beautiful.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


We are now nearly one month into the new year. I feel as though the world has left me in October. I'm only partially here, really. It's been an emotional month, certainly, and that's overwhelming for me. I want to be unshakably strong. Lately I feel like I'm trembling.

I spend my days conscious of the mundane routine I'm trying (badly) to fall into. Whenever I have an idle moment I stuff it with course work or internet. Even just now, I opened my email to avoid rereading the last sentence. I'm afraid of hurting, of feeling. I just won't be able to pull myself out of the hole that I know feeling these feelings will put me in.

So, instead of feeling deeply, I've been skating on the thin surface of existing. I feel as alive as a rock.

Brainpickings has beautiful excerpts from the lives of writers. Sometimes I read them to escape from myself for a little while. Their writing is smooth, and always 'cool'. My writing is clunky and banal. I use too many words, and I always pick the ugly ones. If only I could be Virginia Woolf, or Susan Sontag. Then the emotions would just gush out. I imagine that's what it's like to be a real artist. You feel the idea incubating in you, and then it bursts out unrestrained. Why do I insist on compartmentalizing? Why don't I feel safe? Is there anyone who wouldn't think less of me if they knew all of me?

Sometimes I think about love, and the demons all disappear for a moment. Love keeps me up at night. It distracts me through dull classes. It's the emotional morphine I'm self-prescribing. I don't mean to say he's just a distraction -- he's certainly not. I know that if I was brave enough, I could open up about how I'm feeling. He would be patient with me, I just know it, and I'd end up feeling better. But there's something in the way of developing an emotional relationship on that level, sub-affection. He keeps secrets from me. In fact, he's actually open about having them. How can I possibly feel safe?

I secretly believe that fate led me to him. He has the same vices and the same quiet habits as I do. It's like looking into a (gentle) mirror. Because he is so much like me, I can't help loving him. But he contains all the dark, sticky, musty parts of myself that I wish I didn't have. I know he avoids that deep emotional part, just like I do. It's not that he can't speak on it. He knows that it feels liberating (so liberating!) when it happens. It's a question of feeling safe. Will you still love me when you know my heart completely?  

But love can't always blind me. I'm left alone with my thoughts. It feels like standing in a room full of sharp things. So I sit on the floor of that room, and I play idly with my hair and I check my reflection: a tiny Narcissus blooming in the dark. I'm scared of my most intimate self. I'm scared that there's something in me, buried deeply, that will make me cruel and uncaring. I'm scared that I have the capacity be cold. Most of all, I'm scared that the piece that makes the high emotional points of life so... indescribable -- is broken.
It's terrifying to know the self, it really is.

I want to be unshakably strong. I feel like I'm trembling.