August 10, 2010

The Life of the Mind

Wheatstone asked me yesterday to write them a few-paragraph testimony of my experience at the Academy: how it changed me, what made it worthwhile. What I want to say is that it made me care more about learning for its own sake, helped me realize that there is so much more to know.

But now I'm in a place where I don't know how much I want to know. Even this post, I began it with a question burdening my mind, and now I can barely recall that original question. Perhaps it will disappear completely. It seems to keep resurfacing, though.

I've had a lot of experiences lately, times where life itself forced me to learn more. When you're presented with a problem, knowing how to solve it takes on a lot more significance. But before I face it, I could hardly care less. This, utilitarianism, bothers me. I am divided: part of me thinks that seeking God continually is all I can do, and He will weather me through every difficulty, the Holy Spirit will keep me. The other part questions that mindset, saying that the Holy Spirit works through human words and thoughts I've picked up, to connect ideas so that I understand. And isn't it foolish, unfaithful, of me to let the talents I've been given fall to the wayside? I'm thinking of that parable, where the master went away leaving his servants behind.

This is an idea I thought a lot about during my involvement in debate competition, too: that the right attitude toward competition isn't flippancy or a need to win, but faith. Trust that God will work out what he wants, showing me himself through a win or a loss (-my hope is not built on how I place), but with that trust, action on my own part, to do the best with what I've been given.

Side note: this is mostly my head talking, quickly, running like a train down the line of thoughts. I'm mostly writing this so I can get it down, work it out.

So the question, right. There are times when I can hardly manage to counter the tasks at hand, much less prepare my mind for the future by stretching it. But, I think, I must care about the life of my mind in those in-between times that make up the majority of my life. I think of the question submitting on the Year of Questions channel, "What is the purpose of education?" Perhaps I wouldn't mind so much answering it. Speaking of the video project, I have yet to decide what I should talk about tomorrow. Yay. Not this, it'd be far too boring.

So what am I still wondering about? Maybe I don't know where to go: I try to read often, but I don't know what to focus on. I love poetry, but have hardly read much, only a smattering of poems, and not studied them in depth.

I think this thought connects to any sort of study. My mom's been cleaning house, and today I looked at an old portfolio from an art class I had taken years ago. I've liked art for a long time, and wonder how seriously I mean it. My art course is tremendously good for me, to help me make time for art, but I wonder if even so I've lost something I used to have - creativity, passion, maybe even technique? And I wonder what I'd do with art. I'm thankful for pictures for their expressive powers - much like I'm thankful for poetry - but by thankful I mean I have a use for it. Am I being utilitarian again? Maybe it's called practical. I've never been one for applications in debate, but I'm all about application in everything else, it seems.

So I wonder, how deeply can I get into art, so that it benefits more than just myself? So that I can praise God through creating beauty, or - somehow - be a truth-teller, a warning of the way life is. If that is indeed what artists do.

This, of course, relates to the ever-present college thought. I'm excited for college, because I desperately want to keep learning, to be revived, to find joy in learning and understanding, and to live better. To have substance to my thoughts, in such a way that I discover things, form opinions. In the present, probably the biggest area I'll get to do that is as I dig into this year's NCFCA topic. Yay for political philosophy! And yet I admit that though it's interesting, I hardly take it seriously because it doesn't relate to what I'm doing. I wonder if it's right that I find English to be so much more enchanting than most other subjects, because (as I see it) it's subject matter is life itself.

I want to see how this all ties together, unfortunately I'm not yet sure what I'm looking for (Meno's paradox, a bit). This is what I think I know: study, learning from others, adds to understanding. Understanding of truth. This then adds richness to life - isn't it a sweet feeling to describe something precisely and see light dawn on someone else's face? - but more importantly, rightness to life. To love God fully, my whole self must be engaged.

So what next? Faithfulness, again. To take the opportunities I have - conversations with friends, life experiences, books, prayer. To search for where else I should be going - asking questions, thinking about college some more. To trust that it is by God's power alone that my time and my mind, my heart and my living, bring glory to Him. And isn't that all I want?

P.S. I feel like a published author.