Have you ever watched yourself slowly going through a change that you didn't approve of and wanted to stop, but couldn't, or wouldn't, halt? Have you ever tried to prevent yourself from drifting in the wrong direction, but failed? It's like watching Pangea, isn't it? It's like watching continental drift. You watch from afar as, slightly faster than in reality, India crashes into Asia, and all hell breaks loose. The continents collide; cultures mix until you no longer know what belongs where, and what strange beasts are native to you and which are from the world outside. After a while, you fear, they'll begin to mix; some creatures you don't necessarily want part of you will mate with other denizens of your mind, and there will be a new and partially foreign species dwelling in you. And you don't always want that. The Himalayas are erupting, towering barriers of ice, snow and rock separating what is foreign from what has been with you all along. They're cold and unfeeling, but they at least keep out the changes, the new arrivals. But for how long?
My life isn't necessarily that dramatic or that cool - in fact, I think I can say definitively that it isn't. But continental drift is a neat parallel to any kind of life change. And I do like my analogies. :P
Over the past few weeks I've begun to feel like a bit of a jerk. I haven't had the time or the inclination to help other people; I've been far too occupied with helping myself. When you're overloaded with work and are unsure how you'll get everything done, and you're not succeeding at anything you put your hand to, it becomes more difficult to muster the patience to deal with your "lessers." It's the survivor's instincts - when you're already doing poorly, it becomes less important to you to help the less fortunate, and you have to fight your animal thoughts and help anyway. I didn't have the energy to fight my animal instincts. I was drunk with sleeplessness and fluctuating waves of emotion and misdirected bursts of stamina, and I did very poorly on my penultimate AP Stats quiz - a very bad thing, as I plan to major in that subject. (I believe I got a D.) I studied my hindquarters off for the very last one, and I was still unable to get more than a B+, which devastated me as other people in the class were getting easy As. I'm used to being a scholastic ace. I haven't considered myself a genius or anything like it for years, but I expect to be among the best in the class because I'm used to it. I have straight As in the majority of my classes this semester (which are all honors and AP courses, barring the electives), and although I can acknowledge that I don't deserve better grades than I get, I expect better. Failure sends me into a spiral of anxiety, and I can't help but take it out on some of my most important parts - my compassion circuits.
Although I've been angsty, pessimistic and less than my usual self with my classmates - and less helpful than usual at youth group, where I'm supposed to be a leader - I still got myself to my church's 30-Hour Famine on Friday night. Barely. I scarcely dragged myself through last week, even though the long-awaited work vaccuum had arrived, and my AP classes were finally wrapping up for good. I was simply too tired and beaten to care about anything. I felt like an emotional louse, because I could sense the bitterness inside me, the cynicism and the doubt, and if there's anything worse than feeling like a failure, it's feeling like an awful individual and a failure at the same instant in time. Yet the 30-Hour Famine is important to me, because it gives me a sense of perspective. Several youth groups (six this year) come together at my church to fast for thirty hours and get a sense of how it feels to be hungry for days on end, as they raise money for kids who are starving to death and absolutely devoid of any support. They also work for local families who need help but are unable to help themselves for some reason.
Obviously, I was psyched about doing this. Not only am I a bit of a masochist - I enjoy the challenge of not eating for a long time, and I went forty hours without eating instead of thirty; I've done a three-day fast by myself in the past - I wanted to get out of myself, to stop thinking about my own problems, and to remind myself of the Big Picture. The slide show we were all shown Friday night definitely satisfied this latter desire of mine, unsettlingly so. We saw pictures of kids who were literally starving to death, kids who were even worse off than the poorest and most helpless family I met in Kenya. A pastor from another church talked about more meaningful ways to help the homeless than simply driving past them and giving them clothing or food, and he talked about a photographer who won the Pulitzer for taking a picture of a starving child, a man who later committed suicide because (according to his suicide note) he couldn't live with himself for enduring callously and ungenerously a world with such misery in it. I'm pretty a pretty buoyant person in the last analysis, so I got over these stories, but they're deeply unsettling. Thankfully, I was lifted out of my shallower personal problems for at least the duration of this weekend. I'm glad we're helping these kids through our donations, and I don't feel guilty about my lifestyle because I donate a quarter of my income to a boy in Kenya so that he can go to school. But that doesn't make the slideshow anything less of a call to action. I know that my weak and frail human frame can only do so much, but I want God to do as much with me as I can find the strength to allow. Everything is a constant battle, but it can be a joyful one in the right mindset.
We broke the fast on Saturday. I enrolled in Gordon College this afternoon. I'm finally a college student, guys! >.<
I turn eighteen on this coming Saturday. I WILL BE A MAN AT LAST. This is exciting and sobering. I take birthdays pretty seriously, and I've always regarded one's eighteenth birthday as the official day upon which one becomes an adult. It's a pity that I'll be studying for so much of this coming week, which is a week off - I'm still going full-tilt in honors physics and honors precalc, I have three AP exams to study for, I'm the school magazine's major salesman, and my playwriting teacher, who is a college intern for some reason and grades me as if I'm chopped liver, wants two major assignments back shortly after break finishes. (Also, I'm representing Lithuania in a Model UN conference in mid-May, because I have a death wish, so yeah, that's even more work.) But I do have social stuff lined up. And I am planning a small birthday party. There is light at the end of the tunnel. :)
Also, I know lots of people don't like Owl City, but I find this new song by Owl City, aka Adam Young, absolutely marvelous. I named this blog entry after it, even though it has a lot more to do with continental drift than a song by a shy, slightly effeminate singer from small-town Minnesota. Do me a favor and give it a listen.