Monday, May 24, 2004

Ramble Alert, Volume I

It’s been a week of fascinating storms here in Chicago. It began with a thunderstorm over the lake on Thursday, and in our room Nick the meteorologist was looking excitedly out the window.

“You can see the storm center when the lightning flashes! Right there, you see, is where the funnel clouds might be forming over the lake…”

He then proceeded to say something about ghosts on Doppler radar, speculate about waterspouts, and mention a few terms I couldn't pretend I caught.

But the storms were back, off and on, throughout the weekend. Last night was the most abrupt and spectacular of them all. I was in the Calvert House lounge, discussing the recent threats to excommunicate certain Catholic politicians. (I'll blog about that sometime later, I think.) The drizzle outside turned into a torrent just as students began to arrive for 9:00 Mass; as I left Calvert, the run across University Avenue had me soaked. I stood under a balcony in front of the Reynolds Club, watching the storm, when in a matter of seconds it stopped completely. I looked up to see the cloud moving on to the east, and a clear, starry sky above in shades of sunset blue and violet. I thought it was pretty spectacular.

But then, I love real storms. I don't like getting caught in the rain, unless it's really raining; but on days like yesterday, I try to just enjoy the awe-inspiring display of power.

Josh, who lived on this floor last year, just came to visit from the University of Texas and has been staying in our room. We wound up having another great talk about faith and Scripture and autonomy. Couple that with the aforementioned discussion on politics and the Eucharist, and a dialogue with Nick and Ian about the Immaculate Conception, and it's been a good week for ecumenical and ecclesial talk. I still have to be less arrogant in these discussions.

And this Ben Folds song has been stuck in my head for a while.

And I just want to walk away
Won't you let me walk away sometimes?
Won't you let me walk away?
Every one of you is fired!

It's about frustration with responsibilities, something I identify with too much. I'm disorganized and I procrastinate. I wish all the little details would go away, or that somebody else would handle them and let me focus on what I enjoy. I'm not lazy, I think; I'm fine with doing hard work in academics or for a job. But I don't want to have to worry about it all. I want my duty to be clear. That's why I almost went insane during Scav Hunt the past two years: too many problems to keep track of at once. I don't multitask, and I don't want to manage my time. I wanted to participate, not to direct others and get stressed out.

Nietzsche claimed, in On the Genealogy of Morals, that the Christian hope for peace in our lives is a sort of pathetic longing for inactivity. I think he has it all wrong; I'm hardly ever as peaceful as when I'm mowing the lawn or working on math or writing or doing something active. It's when I'm waiting for something to happen, worrying about how it might go wrong, that I fall apart.

OK, that's truly enough for now.

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