September 10, 2004

The deepest levels of frustration, for me, come where I know a human being could make a difference, but I don't myself have the ability. Where I am able to act, I do. Where something I can write can make a positive difference, I write. Too often though, I find myself one person, with the ability to make a difference in many places but with only one person's time. I need to clone somebody like me, but dedicated - and hope the personality trait holds true. (Kidding! I still don't know even how to feel about the concept of cloning as such. Eventually it will almost certainly be refined to just another form of assisted reproduction: and yet we have enough problems seeking to live vicariously through our standardly-reproduced children.)

I sleep well when it rains or snows. Part of it is that the precipitation seems to clear the air. Another part might be that, sleeping, I usually face eastward - and the days without sunshine are also days without a 5 am sunbeam on my face to wake me after a 2 am fall-asleep. Looked at that way, a week of utter exhaustion suddenly seems to make a good deal more sense.

Then again, in this pass, I still have only the ten days before an enforced and extended absence to try to compress everything I had envisioned for loosely over the rest of the year: not so much again what is planned as such, as what needs doing, and what new constantly arises that equally needs doing. The hours won't get any more numerous for my wishing it - and redefining the hour so as to fit more of them into a day doesn't increase the available time either. It would be very easy, sometimes, just to give up ... except that for me, for some unknowable reason, it would also be impossible. Paradox defines me.

The university and college students are back. It makes a significant difference, here: the local population swells easily by 15%, the store owners start hoping they will after all break even. One of the oddest side-effects of a high percentage transient university population I saw in a town of population perhaps 3500, with maybe twice 800 students injected twice a year into local homes, and with at least six major bars.

At what point did the university culture also become so strongly linked with the culture of alcoholism? When did being educated become equated not with a passing acquaintance with learning the ability to think, but with avoiding the (evolutionary necessity?) to think for as long as temporally possible? Why has extending the irresponsibility of an artifically stretched-out adolescence become such an attraction?

And yet in all fairness: the major "horrendous student story" thus far this year involved students only insofar as their small backyard get-together was crashed by others who were not students nor even from the city: and who then took their frustration to the streets and began inflicting damage on plants and vehicles and houses. Yet the headlines mentioned a "student" party, the articles all specified students, the college president apologised to the neighbourhood - and one had to read very carefully to discover at all that not a single student was involved in any of the destruction.

Strong links, frequently born of a grain or more of truth, also lead quickly to truth-blinding stereotypes ... and we are a lazy species, much preferring to be fed our information and to shortcut our way to the rest of it than to try to puzzle it out for ourselves.

The students are back, and some have been in bars, and some teasing trains far too closely, and some dancing through stopped cars collecting for the annual charity, and some learning how to shop for groceries and other necessities, and some discovering with relief a clean reputational slate, and some sexuality, and some budgets, and some even to study: but all, in one way or another, learning for the first time how to begin to live as independent - and sometimes even responsible - adults.

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