Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29: Horrid Irregularity, Inner Conspiracy Theorist, Bumps in the Road

In the eighteenth century, when educated European tourists visited the Alps, they deliberately blindfolded their eyes to shield themselves from the evidence of the earth's horrid irregularity.  It is hard to say if this was not merely affectation, for today, newborn infants, who have not yet been taught our ideas of beauty, repeatedly show in tests that they prefer complex to simple designs . . .

Yes, the earth is horridly irregular.  Mountains butting against deserts crossing to forests leading up to beaches touching oceans and lakes.  Dillard's factoid about newborns reflects the human attraction to complexity versus simplicity, even at the youngest ages.  Complicated things are more interesting to look at, touch, tasted, smell, read.  That's why people still scale Mount Everest, even though it was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary close to 100 years ago.  It's all about the complexity of the experience.

In my middle years, I have started to appreciate simplicity more.  When my life is complicated, I tend not to enjoy it very much.  I prefer to know that my day-day-day existence is predictable.  Safe.  For example, I still have not been assigned classes to teach next semester, and my inner conspiracy theorist is going into overdrive.  I'm not going to be teaching in the winter.  The university is going to evict me from my office.  My laptop will be confiscated, and that will be the end of this blog.  I won't be able to pay my mortgage, and my family will end up homeless by Christmas Eve.  I'll try to sell plasma, but I'll find out that I had mad cow disease, contracted from an underdone steak I ate.

See, that's what a complicated life does to me.  It would be so much better if, at the beginning of October, I had received an e-mail from the head of the English Department that went something like this:
Dear Saint Marty, you are such a wonderful and inspiring teacher.  I am proud to offer you any classes you want to teach for next semester.  Your choice.  If you don't want to teach, that's okay, too.  We'll pay you a full-time salary, and you can spend the winter writing and traveling.   Just let me know.  It is an honor to have you on our faculty.
So much simpler and easier.  Just give me exactly what I desire, and life will be good.

For some reason, God doesn't quite work that way.  If God did work that way, Hillary Clinton would be the next President of the United State, and I would be living in an eight-bedroom mansion with an indoor pool.  No, God gives you what He thinks you need.  No more.  No less.  Sometimes, that can be a little frustrating.  And complicated.

Tonight, I'm teaching my composition class for the last time this semester.  We're doing class evaluations.  Listening to student presentations.  I'm collecting a final paper.  And I made brownies.  Hopefully, it will be a fairly simple night.  No bumps in the road.

And, also hopefully, I will get an e-mail from the head of the English Department tomorrow, offering me a couple of courses for the winter semester.  Good classes. 

That's all Saint Marty is asking for.  It's not that complicated.

Too complicated for me . . .

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