Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finals-week Philosophy

Call them miracles, if that's your thing. Call them fortunate coincidences, or maybe a series of fortunate coincidences. Call them Divine intervention or just a highly improbable occurrence you're pretty darn happy with. I don't care which you pick; really, I don't.

It's that time of year again. When twinkly-lights around Manhattan, Chanukah candles in the window (really, is there any sight more comforting?), and the heebie-jeebies unite to make you believe that something incredible is sure to happen. That great and rare occurrence, optimism.

All I can really see is that in a week and a half, I will be mostly free. I finished another paper this morning, and my last oral presentation is tomorrow. My twelve-page take-home final is due monday. And then, glorious exhale.

Yes, I'll still have one paper left, but I won't have class. Finals will be over. My packed five-day workweek will become a significantly easier two-and-a-half day one. I can't wait. And yes, that will mean the return of cartoons, and possibly even my sense of humor.

But that depends on whether this gut feeling I've got is indicative of truth, or just the result of too many sufganiyot.

Why do I suddenly oscillate between feeling impending doom approaching and feeling like everything's going to be ok? I shouldn't be feeling that way, by all logic. Nothing has occurred to make me think either way. Nobody has spontaneously called me with disastrous news; I have not had any wishes fulfilled or intense prayers answered. I'm still as unsure about life, the universe, and everything as I've been for the past three months.

Call it my "question phase," my epic gladiatorial battle between my brain and my heart, between what Kurt Vonnegut called the pinnacle of human evolution (the whirring machine/bad idea bear) and what Woody Allen called "a very resilient little muscle" (the thumping little masochist).

But now it's Chanukah. I have no idea what it is about lighting candles and singing songs that makes me believe that somehow, someone might have been listening to me all this time (that would be really nice, though). It's been a very long time since I asserted any belief that things happen for a reason (although I won't say they don't, either. I'm very up in the air when it comes to G-d's plan). And yet, somehow, now... I feel like there could have been reasons? And where did this feeling that things are about to take a turn for the better come from? Of course this all depends on whether this is me or the sleepless, studying, writing, caffeinating nights talking.

I'm rather confused.

If there are miracles, well, let's merit a few. They would be nice. I know of a few people who could use a miracle or two.

While we're waiting, Happy Chanukah.

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