(Sorry for the mess. I originally intended to make sense.)
I think there are a couple of reasons we have our best ideas in the shower. For one, it’s boring rote work, and boredom is to creativity as coffee with oatmeal is to my colon. For another, the heat really gets your blood moving, and your brain has no other use for all that extra oxygen than creativity, as mentioned.
So I thought earlier today. Then I stepped into the shower and had possibly the worst idea in my life. Being a philosophical sort who gets offended by inconsistency, that put me in a real pickle.
Oh right, the idea. I want to go back to the University of Michigan and finish a degree in nuclear engineering. What, you were thinking the title was salesmanship?
Self-destruction through perfectionism
But the more I consider it, the more sense it makes. The question “Should I do it?” immediately reduces to “Can I do it?” No really, it does. You can try it even.
For instance, the most obvious problem is my pathological hatred for universities, as explained many times previously. I still believe they destroy minds and lives and commit countless innocents to lives of corporate indenture. I believe they are a perversion and a plague upon Western civilization, the incorporate murderers of intellectual discourse.
This hatred tends to send me into a depressive spiral of death within about six weeks of the semester’s beginning. Not an exaggeration either, I have the legitimate diagnosis to prove it. That number historically decreased with each subsequent semester and, when I gave it my last shot in the winter semester of 2011, I spent the second week bedridden. Now, my calculus ain’t what it used to be, but I know a negative first derivative when I see one.
But something really strange has happened too; one year later, I’m a completely different person. It’s not just that my prefrontal cortex is still developing, it’s something else. I think it’s the beginning of wisdom.
Wisdom through tragedy
I don’t believe God has a perfect little plan for my life, but it would be dishonest to deny that nothing ever opened my eyes to the truth like my complete self-destruction. If God can use such a disaster to make me realize how foolish I am- how foolish we all are, really- then I believe he can do anything he wants, at all.
In my anguish, I sought to understand what had happened. When the storm came, it washed away the sand and with it, all my plans and hard work. I had believed that perseverance and hard work were all I needed, and never even asked “to what end all this perseverance and hard work?” I finally began learning about life and adulthood, about lying and society and expectations, about clashing interests and philosophies and the weaknesses of authority, about people. What I learned enraged me.
But I kept learning. I learned a little about economics and history and politics and the business of war. (And, having learned that such a business exists, I shudder to think of the bloody path I nearly tread.) I stumbled across Game, and learned what makes women tick. I learned that most of what my parents and teachers and pastors taught me were nothing but pretty lies. It fueled the hatred in me even more.
Understanding eventually taught me empathy, an idea I’d never known in my aspergic-obsessive solipsism. With empathy came patience, and then…pity? Certainly not peace. To finally understand people is also to understand the depths of evil. Only a sociopath could abide such knowledge with tranquility.
I had better return to the point, before this hypergraphic stream of consciousness gets out of hand.
And that point is this: I understand the game now. I know the rules. I may still have contempt for it, but I finally see sin for what it is. I can see myself for who I am. And though I see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, it is better than keeping my eyes shut like I did before.
I think I can face the world now.
I’m consciously manic at the moment, so I won’t set anything in stone yet. But I think it’s important to figure out whether I can summon the will to see this crazy idea through. It’s amazing how quickly I was able to conceive of a financial plan once I had the plan in mind. In fact, ever since my shower I haven’t been able to sleep (Lord knows I need sleep too, because I’ll be at work in four hours) because all of the pieces have been falling logically into place on their own.
To make matters more simple, it’s not like I have the option to wait around either. My welcome at UM expires after this coming semester, after which I would have to reapply.
To that end, I’ve set myself a very practical and nearly impossible challenge: if I’m going to pursue this, I have to work every exercise in Mary Boas’ excellent book, Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, in two months. That’s 780 pages, with 192 sections split into 15 chapters, and roughly 4,000 exercises. It’s past midnight, so two months means April 20th (it’s a leap year, so that’s sixty days).
But there’s a catch to this challenge. As an adult, I have the responsibility to take care of my own spiritual, physical, and mental health. That means I have to practice my balancing act before the big show. I have to get a full night of sleep (8 hours) at least six nights of the week, including one day of sleeping in without setting an alarm. I have to go to karate at least 3 nights per week. I have to read an entire fiction book each week. I have to post something, anything to this blog once per day.
This is just stuff that tends to, personally, keep me relatively sane.
I have to play two hours of a video game on my day off from work. Speaking of work, I have to continue improving both my work performance and my social standing at work. I have to practice guitar for an hour three times per week.
Last, but not least, I have to pray to my Lord and savior and study his word every day. I have to tithe ten percent from each paycheck, including that last one I forgot about (even though I think American Christianity is perverse).
My New Years’ resolutions will take a back seat to this, obviously.
If I can pull all of that off, then I will set my ridiculous plan in motion. I will absolutely need to rely on Jesus to do it, and that’s the point. Before, I failed because I’m weak. But if Jesus can build me up through the worst time in my life, this should be no problem for him.
God help me.