I have been wondering why I have had such a hard time at the end of this particular semester. It did occur to me this morning that part of the reason may have to do with the fact that it has been four years since my husband started his Master's degree program in counseling. He worked hard in the program, but it was definitely up to me (as, it seems, it always is) to hold things together financially during that period. Perhaps the strain of that has finally come to the surface.
It's pretty clear that in the U.S. at this point (and possibly in other cultures as well, but I don't know from direct experience), people are expected to focus on "the positive." (It always struck me how New Age types in particular often use phrases such as "the creative." By essentializing qualities like that, they virtually admit that they have neither the means nor the inclination to actually do anything creative themselves. Instead, they prefer to daydream about such things dropping out of the sky and into their laps, which is why they are generally not good at very much of anything but talking.) Anyone who won't cooperate is judged as having some sort of intrinsic moral flaw.
The more that our culture amasses a record of failure and desperation, the more important it becomes to focus on "the positive." Refusal to do so begins to take on the dimensions of an act of treason. The commonplace, of course, is that it was only in Communist countries that citizens' lives were disfigured by ideology.
It is at times like this that I am grateful for the example of Peter Wilberg's Little Black Book of Negative Thinking. Of course people who experience loss will mourn; of course people who have held up under exceptional pressure will need some down time; etc.
This morning, as I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, with large gray circles under my eyes, I reflected back on how, during my insomnia, I seem to have been reliving all of my legitimate mistakes as well as all of the excessive and unjust criticisms of my teaching since I began that work in the fall of 1991. It was like a holographic nightmare panorama. I wondered if this what hell, or the underworld, is like. This, in turn, reminded me of the ways in which I re-experienced rejection and bullying from my neighborhood and school days whenever I would run into conflicts with "friends" in the Amma org. It can, I suppose, be useful to be reminded of one's vulnerabilities from time to time, as a means of settling accounts with one's life and as a spur to further growth, but it can also seem unproductive to get into those spaces without every seeming to be able to get out of them. At times like these, perhaps the only thing I can come up with to help myself is to remind myself that I have done more with my life than to make a career out of trying to destroy the quality of other people's lives.
After my required reports have been submitted for this year, I plan on keeping as much distance as I can from campus-related matters this summer. I plan to be completely inaccessible during Ramadan. Even before and after that, I plan on banning myself from contacting colleagues to express concerns about certain pending items. I keep seeing "August 20" in block letters in my mind, like a banner to remind me to give myself a time-out until then.
In other news, I have revised my CV and I have made decent progress in uploading items from it into the university's digital measures software, which now serves as the only source for information for the department's annual report.
I have also been formulating a possible topic for an invited presentation for next fall, in which I hope to be able to say something meaningful about the relationship of Xenakis's electronic work La légende d'Er and Plato's Republic.