Much as I was worried about returning to school after an intense bout of sadness, I had forgotten one crucial variable: How much I love talking about Stuff. Yes, capital “S” Stuff. And wouldn’t you know it? Grad school is a great place to talk about Stuff.
I love talking about contemporary scientific research, competing histories of scientific discovery, contradictory philosophies of thought, early childhood education, extra-institutional forms of higher learning, how new technology informs notions of the self and the community, the methodological underpinnings of contemporary literary analysis, major literary trends over time, the waxing and waning of film conventions, normative cultural narratives, the mythological function of Judeo-Christianity in Western civilization, various impediments to ethical living and advocacy, pervasive acts of cultural marginalization through public policy, dominant discursive practices in politics and academia alike, the compression of news cycles and the future of infotainment, the illusion of objective analysis, linguistic archaeology, and why insects, nudibranchs, and deep sea creatures are super cool.
Sometimes, while walking from place to place, I’ll also think to myself: “Look at me go! I’m a walking, thinking, occasionally angsting bundle of meat!” And then I’ll think about all the species I’m carrying from place to place, and how my individual cells have no cognizance of what they create together, and how much viral DNA has endured over tens of thousands of years to exist in my genome today, and what this body of mine will be turned into next when I die, and how long it will take all my atoms to quit this planet, and how fast I’m hurtling through space at this moment, and how many times my surroundings have changed since the Earth’s creation, and what the sky would have looked like when the Earth was terrifically young, and how many collisions it underwent in those early years of the solar system, and how long Voyager I will survive outside the solar system, and how frightfully childlike the whole human species is, with so many of us thinking at every hopelessly fragile juncture of our existences just how much we know, how wise we have become: we few brilliantly chattering, loving, hurting babies on a fleeting speck of cosmic dust.
And then I feel marvellous again. How about you?