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Showing posts from December, 2010

lessons from university - part two

The first round of Christmas gatherings have passed. It has been a great chance to interact with people that we see a few times a year, and in the case of some, once every few years. One thing that I have noticed in all the family activities is how often we don't really understand the other. Small things are assumed or left unsaid and this can lead to misunderstandings. Just today, Dean said he would pick me up at a certain door at the mall at a specific time. I arrived at the correct time and waited just inside the door, watching for him. Unknown to me, he drove by a few minutes before I arrived, didn't see me, and parked just out of sight, waiting for me to come out the door. After about 10 minutes, I decided to call him and it was then that we discovered that we had both been waiting, but for different things. I had expected him to drive by the door and he had expected me to come out the door. We had not been clear on the details or who was to initiate contact once we were …

lessons from university - part one

One of the things that I have learned in my studies is that it is really important to give the professor what he or she is asking for. I have read a lot of papers where students have neglected to follow the instructions given for the assignment. No matter how good your writing is, if you don't answer the question or use the specified sources, it doesn't count for much. I have heard a few presentations by fellow students that were impressive in every way except that they were not what the professor had asked for. Unfortunate, perhaps, but you don't get points for being impressive. You get points for giving the professor what he or she asked for. Besides learning about the topic at hand, an assignment is given in order to help one develop the ability to identify what is required and to channel one's efforts towards that end. This is a very valuable skill and not as easy to do as it sounds. It also expands one's mind, heart, character, and knowledge in ways that would…

rest is harder than it looks

I took the weekend off. By "off" I mean that I did not do any school-related work. The term officially ended for me when I handed in my last assignment on Friday afternoon (small cheer!). I had dinner with friends on Friday night, and on Saturday, turned my attention to a much-neglected house, spending the better part of two days tidying and cleaning. Good fun the first day, really not a lot of fun the second day. I found myself becoming critical and short-tempered by the end of the weekend. Ugh! It wasn't simply the cleaning; it was the change of pace. Instead of papers and proposals to write, I had the opportunity to be attentive to people and take care of life's little responsibilities. It called on a whole different set of skills than schoolwork.

The transition from very busy student to relaxed person has been less than smooth, because I have a tendency to transfer my way of dealing with school to the rest of life - but life is not a project, people are not deadli…

hope and expectation

We were talking about expectations a few days ago in a group setting (as a result of reading Luke 7 where Jesus asks: what were you expecting?[1]). I have come to the conclusion that in most cases, expectations are not a good thing. I voiced this opinion, but I could see that others did not agree, so I tried to explain the difference that I see between expectations and hope.

Picture a scenario: Dean is coming home after a business trip (as he actually was on the night of this discussion).

Hope, to me, is a buoyancy that comes from knowing I will soon see Dean. I am looking forward to meeting him, to having him back at home, but I have not written a scenario in my head about how it will happen.

Expectation would have me imagine the two of us seeing each other from across the airport, running into each other's arms, and murmuring loving phrases that set my heart aflutter and bring gasps of ooohhh and aaaahhh when I retell the story of our reunion.

Hope just knows that at some point, Dea…

wait or jump?

I was walking down the stairs of the metro station one day this week to catch the subway downtown. As I neared the bottom of the stairs, the warning set of beeps started to sound, letting me know that the train that was stopped there with its doors open was about to leave. Now, I usually get on the second last car in the train because it spits me out exactly where I need to be when I get off at my final stop. I have done this trip so often that my feet automatically head in the direction of that ideally located car. However, when the beeping started, I was several cars away from where I wanted to be.

And here was the dilemma I faced: should I just hop on the less than ideal car and thereby waste a few minutes on the other end when I got off, or should I wait for the next train to come and make sure I got my usual seat on the optimal car? I made a decision, fast, and jumped on the car right in front of me just before the doors closed.
At that point, I realised that my dilemma was a fake.…

reading and eating

I am in the thick (and thin) of finishing my reading course on Evelyn Underhill and early 20th century spirituality. It has taken me through more than 60 sources over the course of 6 months, and in the process I have learned something about reading. I was used to leisurely literary meals with ample time to digest the contents. No such luxury to be had here, I soon found out.

I have learned to sip chapters quickly through a big straw in order to gain maximum content with minimum chewing. I have learned to take just a bite of everything offered at the book buffet so as not to get bloated and sleepy. I have learned that unavoidably, sometimes it is necessary to eat on the run, so picking a few lighter topics when this is the case helps to avoid indigestion. And then there are the times when it is worth setting the table, lighting the candles, and sitting down to a full-course meal, enjoying every bite. Here are a few samples from some of the fine meals I have enjoyed this past week. Savou…