Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fifteen Books

“Intellectual death is endemic in areas where people are unprepared to obtain new information for development. Learning is a way of staying alive.”

Israelmore Ayivor  Shaping the Dream

“Order and simplification are the first steps towards mastery of a subject”
Thomas Mann

“All that is necessary for a student is access to a library.”

Thomas JeffersonThe Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 16: November 1789 to July 1790

Fifteen books.  That’s what arrived at my door yesterday.  Fifteen books in a little box.  The doorbell rang and when I stepped outside I could see the deliveryman running to his truck as I shouted out an enthusiastic thanks.  The books are from the school where I will be doing online studies in order to get a Master’s degree in history.  I’m very excited, as I often am at the beginning of any new venture or new year, but enthusiasm rarely sustains me, even when I’m doing something I love or something I want to do.  Reading these books and being successful in my studies for the next 18 months will require the following:
First, I will need to create a schedule.  In the literature from the school it was recommended that one would need to devote 15-20 hours per week of study.  I have no idea how I’m going to do that.  I suppose on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I can easily devote an hour in the afternoon and an hour in the evening.  That’s six hours.  On Tuesdays I can do one hour in the evening. That makes seven.   On Fridays I can devote three hours.  That’s ten.  And I can do five hours on Sundays, three in the morning, and two in the evening.  That’s fifteen.  That’s only the bare minimum.  I want to give myself one day off, but maybe I’ll need to do two hours on Saturdays.  
I say that plaintively, but here’s the thing:  I’ve long fantasized about having a life where I can devote myself to reading and writing.  Now my fantasy is becoming a reality.  So I won’t complain.  I will do what needs to be done.  This is a golden opportunity.  Gold is not only precious; it’s valuable.  So is the chance to further my education.  It’s not to be squandered.
The second thing I will need is to get my life in order.  I need to make sure my car and my place and my workspaces are organized and clean.  I don’t want to lose time because my life is a mess or because I can’t find something.  Things need to be prepared so that daily life gets in the way as little as possible. Bills need to be paid and clothes need to be ironed.  Dishes need to be washed and beds need to be made.  None of this takes a long time, but I no longer have the luxury of letting things pile up.
The third thing I will need is to manage my time.  This means deciding what is really important.  The important things are my Muse, and my children.  And I still have to go to work and do a good job.  I still want to write.  I need to exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. 
The fourth thing I will need is the support of anyone who believes in what I am doing and will encourage me to Get Started and Keep Going, even when, especially when, it gets difficult.
What I’ve done is take on a part time job.  The good news is that I can pick the hours I want to work. 
There is no bad news. 
If this blog seems self-indulgent, I don’t mind.  This may be how anyone who is in Purpose has to regard his or her choices.  In Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande says we need to have dual personalities.   One personality is the artistic one, the one who writes or paints or studies.  This is the child at play.  This is the saint who is doing God’s work.  The other part is the parent who watches over the child to make sure he gets enough food and sleep, or the manager who makes sure the artist doesn’t starve or bounce checks.  I have to be both.
I also have to take advantage of this opportunity.  Well, I don’t have to; no one is forcing me to do this.  But I feel that this is the next step in my spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth.  I feel called to do this, even though it’s going to add stress and work to my life.  I think we all have to do what we are called to do.  Dorothea Brande also says this:
The man of genius is one who habitually (or very often or very successfully) acts as his less gifted brothers rarely do.  He not only acts in an event, but he creates an event, leaving his record of the moment on paper, canvas or stone.  As it were, he makes his own emergency and acts in it, and his willingness to both instigate and perform marks him off from his more inert, less courageous comrades.      

I’m not saying I’m a genius, but if I am, or I will be, then it is because of the work I do.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.