March 29, 2006
My four years of college were filled with intellectual feats: speed-reading great tomes in a single marathon library session; pouring over millions of index cards containing valuable bits of research until I couldn't see straight; starting 25-page term papers on midnight the day they were due; participating in every extra-curricular activity known to human kind; defying forces of nature by seldom sleeping for longer than four hours in a row. Neurons firing! Synapses forming and strengthening! Brain power brain power brain power!
While incredibly stimulating and worth (just about) every penny of the gazillion dollars my family and I forked over for an Ivy League education, by the end of my senior year I very much needed to not do the school thing. I was academically exhausted and was in serious need of intellectual detoxification. The thought of reading made my eyes cross. The thought of healthy debate made my tongue go slack. The thought of thought was almost too much. And so, after seventeen straight years of schooling (I went to Readiness after Kindergarten, but that's another story) I made a concerted effort to go catatonic.
OK, not catatonic. I still read books, I still debated politics, I still, you know, thought, but I spent considerably less time engaged in intellectual pursuits than I did in school. Trivial pursuit had been more my thing.
Lately, however, I have begun to rattle about in my brain. As synapses disappear, there is a bit more space in there than I am comfortable with. I realize now that I have thoroughly detoxed from school, and am in need of some learning.
We went out for dinner tonight with two friends and had an excellent conversation about theatre and theatrical design. I put my brain in gear and felt the old machinery creaking, felt the cobwebs wisp away from the cogs, felt my intellect yawning and stretching and looking about with a sense of wonder. Sure, I've had many moments like this post-graduation and pre-tonight (I certainly haven't been a vegetable for the past four years), but it felt so good to feel my brain humming that I think I'm ready to reintroduce academia back into my life. I am ready to go to community lectures and volunteer more and take a class or two. I am ready to read some non-fiction. I am ready to engage in more independent research.
Don't get me wrong, you won't find me writing an 25-page papers any time soon. In fact, I'm still a-okay with never doing that again.
But things are buzzing again, and it feels pretty good.