The End of Things

My decision to go to school in Tucson at the UA was built on a series of checklists. I gathered up a list of pros and cons for each school I was considering, and rated each on a scale. The one with the highest positive number won. In actuality, Clark University won by that measure, and only UA financially. What they both shared was the absolute high score for being far away from my life at the time.

This still surprises me to think about. I’m very clingy, and very adverse to new things. I’m prone to anxiety attacks just thinking about changes in a routine. The thing I wanted most after ending high school was to get the hell away from everything and everyone I knew. This later came to bite me in the ass, but I think has turned out for the best.

I still have an entire two semesters before I graduate, and already I’m feeling the need to flea.  I’ve been thinking more and more about graduate school, and I’m not sure if it’s for me. Yes I love learning, but I do not love academia. I do not love the stress of deadlines, the seeming annoyance of teachers of having to actually teach, and the lack of positive reinforcement. I’m not creating anything there. I’m consuming vast amounts of money, consuming books by the dozens, but still I’m not doing anything worthwhile. Education has turned out to be my most culturally elite and expensive form of consumerism.

All I want to do is start working, and start whatever kind of life can be left for me. I want to plant a garden, and actually eat the food I grow. I want to by a new car, and drive it into the ground. I want to become more of a coffee connoisseur (I’m actually working on that one. I just ordered some green coffee for my very first roasting experience!). I think the plan as it stands right now is to work my ass off and spend as frugally as possible for a decade or so, at which point I’ll happily become a misanthrope and start living off-grid. O, these damn romantic notions.

If There Be, Let It

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn

Isn’t this a lovely use of the subjunctive? When I first read this, that’s all I saw. It tickled my inner-linguist in very special way for me. The present subjunctive of “to be” is one of my absolute favorites. This mood works to build a sort of contract. Whereas the subjunctive generally functions in conventionality, a counter-reality of sorts, this use feels very permanent. If an opportunity to bestow this described kindness every appears, he promises to fulfill it. It feels duty-bound, and imparts that duty to the reader.

Human mortality is also subject here. People around me (and I do too) will put things, often personally important things, off, not because they are intentional snubbing the desires and wishes of someone, but because there simply isn’t time. By refusing to stand behind time as an excuse, he uses it to strengthen his volition to do just those things. He doesn’t answer an important question: “Why should I do such things, such acts of kindness?”. Again the subjunctive operates to answer the question. By eschewing the other moods of English, Penn is removed of control of the situation, seemingly placing his fate in the hands of something else. The imperative would be too strong a suggestion, likely to be ignored. The indicative would come off more as an observation. Only the subjunctive here functions to to bring reverent purpose, one the reader would want to emulate.