Learning on my own terms

September 19, 2007

I am writing this for the September Write-Away Contest at Scribbit. The prompt is learning.

It started towards the end of my Junior year in college. An itch inside the head, a malaise spreading across my landscape–the knowledge that my education would soon be ending and a realization that what I had learned did not matter. Oh I had learned some things alright: how to teeter the edge of drunkenness and oblivion, how to get by with B’s by doing the absolute minimum, how to always move in the direction of pleasure at the expense of self-knowledge. I had been caught in the machine, taught that high school must precede college and from college to a good-paying job and if I’m lucky a nice girl to settle down with.

But something happened that Junior year, when the stories I had been told no longer made sense. When the frustration grew so great that the only movement that seemed possible was self-oblivion. Either I die or give up. This game that I had been playing, that was playing me had to stop. I started to read. Not just the text I had to for classes but what called to my heart, what helped me make sense of the mess I now found myself in. I looked with eyes that were beginning to focus on a reality that could be explored freely with a questioning spirit.

That summer I locked myself away. I was still living with my family but I moved in a sphere that kept them on the periphery. My routine: Wake at 3PM, eat and go to the back room and read. And write. I would break only for sustenance and return to Dostoevsky and Castenada, Hemingway and Steinbeck. Midnight to 5AM were the magical hours, complete silence and me seemingly the only one awake in the world dreaming wide-eyed while the words of the masters flitted before me.

I lasted like that in my cocoon of learning for a month and a half until my mother awakened me to my responsibilities. I found a job as a cook in a practically empty bar and could read for hours in the back of the kitchen. In the fall I returned to school more myself than ever though I easily slipped back into old routines. Drunken nights with old friends, study and regurgitate, repeat. There were times I would remember what I had learned and the notebook would come out and I could reflect on my loneliness and my betrayal of the soul. A man caught between what he knows to be right and the inertia of shallow friendships projected upon the backdrop of degree pursuit.

Not until I left school could I begin upon the journey towards true knowledge. I found myself on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the winter, no friends from any of my previous incarnations, a man ready to begin anew. There was no weight of expectation that I brought with me, to be anyone other than myself, that ever-changing glorious manifestation of the divine. My Outer Banks acquaintances did not know the beer-chugging frat boy. They did not have any memories of my past selves and I could slowly release those alternative characters I played and let shine through what was dying to come to light: me.

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8 Responses to “Learning on my own terms”


  1. I’d be interested to read a sequel and see what happens next.

    Thanks for entering!


  2. Ok I’m going to tune in tomorrow….

  3. awareness Says:

    what was it that happened to wake you up in Junior year? What a clear turning point.

    Well written ……..it pulled me right in Matthew. Can’t wait to read more.

  4. Matthew Says:

    Thanks for the comments, I’ll need to get working on the sequel:)

    That is a great question awareness and one that I have pondered often and explored in writing. Some thoughts: it may be tied in with karma or reincarnation (not positive that I believe that though) or more simply there just needed to be a change and something snapped. Certainly fodder for another post!

  5. Daisy Says:

    I like the story and the openness of it. Whatever caused the change, it had a real impact on your life. I like the hollyhock picture on the right, too; mine look like that when they’re blooming!

  6. Frenzel Blatt Says:

    Rarely do I find on the Net stories such as this one,when people talk about their own issues,and more rarely about some meaningful and important moments in their life,so I was more than very glad to have this “history” read.
    Of course,everyone has his own opinion of this topic (and things like these in general),and everyone has right to think diffrent way than myself.But my opinion is that inside this person,there has always existed some form of hidden/subconcious(and perhaps not even subconcious-that’s not for sure,but we didn’t get that information from the text) “will to power”,gained somewhere in the period of earlier childhood and kept in the person’s “psyche” in more-less unchanged form.But just like it is the case with children,younger people most often do not know how to gain “power” so they choose wrong ways for accomplishing their goals;youth’s intellect must be developed sufficiently to make him capable of making decisions that would completly fit reality-but the”will to power”,gained in such early and sensitive age,makes him want to get his self-affirmation and ego-pleasure DIRECTLY (right the way,or else-the youth’s frustration grows from year after year and can have unpleasent consequences).Because of not-sufficietly developed youth’s intellectual abilities on one side,and early-developed desire for gaining ego-pleasure on the other-in order to reduce frustration,the youth chooses many wrong ways,which all have in common to include absence of patient work and miscalculated but extremly rough actions-those people are not yet aware that”power”can be gained with hard and serious work only,though they are very prepared for serious and work-pregnant life deeply inside themselves-all they need (to use that strength of theirs) is to find that out. And there is another thing:The”Will”they had got used to live with since early childhood-just like all that originates from the same period-is deeply planted in their psychological life and remains there all the time while they grow up.It became usual part of it and makes them consider as normal thing to win their goal definitely when they grow. Just like it had been”promised” to them a long ago and they begin feeling it as their destiny.But one day-usually at same time when life’s circumstances force them to realise childhood is gone and to think of more pressing and usual matters in life-they suddenly realise that those matters,so common for other people(such as”settling down”,”finding a well-paid job”etc-and all those things that some other people don’t even consider to bring into doubth),turn out to be too”usual” for them.They become shoked because all the time since childhood had passed without gaining anything at least important in selfactualisation-the”promise”was never fullfilled.This knowledge is unavoidably being followed by some more-less drastic change in the person’s lifestyle.All this things start happening at the time when intelligence is finally completly developed and view of the world and life clear and defined.

    There ‘s a thing I would like to add-to avoid any confusions or misunderstandings-when I use the term “will to power”-it doesnt refer to-wish to kill other people,to submit them or to became superior being-not anything like that at all.The term “power”is used in a descriptive way:it is simply used to signify selfactualisation-or perhaps we may say -inner power-which means control over one’s own personal potentials.
    “Power”,”selfactualisation”,”pleasing oneselfs ego”(bringing it closer to the super-ego instance)are terms used to signify the same meaning.-Under many various and still-not well-known factors and circumstances,some people develop certain components of their personality in very early period of their life-before developing those which are complement to components mentioned,if you get what I mean.When all necessary components develop completly,personality becomes defined and person finally knows what he wants to do in his life.This kind of uneven personal development occurs very often among people and is not miscommon,but people rarely manage to properly recognise this phenomenon.

    Thanks for the time you spent while reading this and I will be very glad to hear other people’s opinion of this topic!

  7. Frenzel Blatt Says:

    God bless us-again…
    and again..and again!

  8. Moses 447 Says:

    Is anyone reading this?Is anyone ready to help the soul which is falling apart?’Cause I can hardly stand this life anymore!I can barely live!People are so cruel and I am the zero of this society!I have to be realistic and it is so hard!Will anyone in this world help me?Everyone wants to defeat me because I am a Jew.They consider me a “lower race” and I want people to respect me and they spit on me!Besides,I think I started hating Jews myself and I think my mind is torn into pieces!SELF-HATRED is the worst thing for every human being and I don’t want anyone,anyone to suffer it!No being deservs it and I can freely say that even hatred of all of the world is better than self-hatred.BUT I SUFFER IT-so help me!Jesus,people are monsters.They brought me to this complex-and I think I don’t wanna be Jew anymore,but I can’t escape it,at least not tillI am alive.


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