Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Muzzling the Dragon

Let's call this a small victory, or maybe just a few days of a better mood. I feel as though my crazy, trying semester  has received an upgrade of sorts. All of the obstacles and challenges are still there, but perhaps the terrain has been smoothed over.

In the past week, I've gone from whelmed and panicky to... questioning and confused. I suppose this isn't an ideal state to live in, especially considering the security I felt back in the days of Arbitribe, but that's neither here nor there. Either way, it's an improvement from two weeks ago. It feels temporary and shaky, like it could give away under my feet any second. But it's a good step. A cautious step.

Like I said, the tribulations are still there. Technically, nothing has changed in the picture of my existence other than that I finally handed in my first ever Graduate School Paper (Hurdle One: Cleared!) and just today, gave my first oral presentation in class. I've still got five more papers and a final exam to go this semester, but now, for some very strange, unreal, perhaps even nonexistent reason, I feel less afraid of them. It's like fighting your way through a forest and getting a sudden improvement in weaponry.

I'm reminded again of the Arbitribe post I wrote (Oh my G-d) a year and a half ago. In that post, I compared facing the big, scary future (affectionately named the BSF) to fighting off a two-headed dragon built of what are you going to do with your life and who will be there with you while you do it? I talked about the salivating, ring-accessorized Love dragon and the sharp-beaked, baggy-eyed Career dragon.

(Wow. Let me just say, rereading that post now is SO WEIRD. I feel like a different person wrote it. So much has changed since then. It gives me chills to think about everything that's happened since then, and how much some of those issues have changed, while other points remain as relevant as they ever were.) I wrote later about how my faith in my beliefs and my people were providing me with some support in the battle.

I feel like I've been set upon by this nasty, reptilian beast again. This time, in a new arena: a bigger, scarier world I don't recognize, which I guess should be more frightening. But it's not.

And I really don't know why, because the monster isn't any less aggressive or smelly or difficult than it was in 2011. If anything, it's come closer and gotten ruder. But for the next few months at least, I've got the career head muzzled with a job and graduate school, so that's good.

But when it comes to actually tackling the thing, my mind is just too filled up with questions about this weird, scary, illogical terrain (see Peers on Piers). I feel like I'm telling the dragon, "I know you're there, I acknowledge that you're not going away. But right this second, you've got to wait, you stupid, drooling monster."

I feel like there's some vital piece of information I've been missing, which so many other knights already know. I know I need to fight you, monster, but until I figure this out, you've got to be muzzled.

I've got questions that need answering. That's really the only way I can put it. The world I've been thrown into now is so wild, and not what I thought it was. (This world is so weird. People are weird. Does anyone else feel that way?) I know (more or less) what I want to achieve sometime in that Big Scary Future. But... right now? (Shrugs.) I feel like I need to climb a mountain and ask some wise old sage a few questions first.

I got my upgrade, I've moved on to level two of this weird game of the BSF. Now I've got to examine my new terrain, my new weapons, and figure out which ones to use. And how to use them. BSF, I know that sometimes when people get confused, they think you're not going to sneak up behind them and bite. But I haven't forgotten. Don't think for one second, dragon, that I don't know you're there waiting.

Being confused is strange and discomforting. But it's so much better than being afraid.

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