A title with a double meaning, referring first of all to the numerous walks organized this week as part of University Health Week, which I have appreciatively been using to acquaint myself with the campus' glorious and fascinating surroundings, and second of all to this post, in its anticipated format as a lengthy discussion of a number of events, experiences, thoughts, and feelings expected to make up for in verbosity the uncharacteristic terseness (as noted by the responsively poetic Grandpa Fred) of my previous entry. Onwards, then...
My weekly schedule has pretty much solidified itself, having become, over the past few weeks, satisfactorily filled by just about the right number of activities and events--enough to keep me busy and engaged, without, I hope, overwhelming me. These include: my classes, as aforementioned, but perhaps never precisely detailed in schedule-distribution, as well as a number of meetings, services, and discussion groups, mostly of a religious nature, run through my second home on campus, an architectural anomaly of round concrete with square panes of individually monochromatic stained glass circling the gray walls, topped with an obliquely conical turqouise roof and called, quite appropriately, the Meeting House.
Basically, a run-down of my regular weekly schedule looks like this:
- Creative Drama workshop 11-1
- Metaphysics lecture 2-3
- Taize service 5:15-5:45
- Christian Union 7-9
- Science Fiction 9-11
- Writing for the Theatre 2-4
- Cell Group 7-9
- Metaphysics workshop 3-4
- Alpha Group 8-10
- Book Discussion Group 1-2:30
- Philosophy Society 4:30-6:30
- Ben & Jay's radio show 9-10
In case you were wondering...
Of course, other activities of a less regular nature are interspersed within this schedule, including hanging out with the flatmates (which usually takes the form of either watching a movie or sitting in our dining room (we haven't got any kind of living room, so most hanging out takes place in awkward configurations of wooden chairs squeezed amidst two tables in the too-small room between our kitchen and our bathrooms) having hours-long conversations about all manner of randomness... they also frequently spend late nights out together at one of the local clubs, an enterprise I have yet to muster the courage to accompany them on, although I'm sure it's only a matter of time, and I suppose it's a necessary cultural experience).
Other recent activities have included the aforementioned organized Health Week walks--the trek over the Downs was one such walk, and I went on another yesterday through Stamner Park, a bit of woods just over the hill from campus full, as we discovered with the help of the Biology tutor leading the walk, of fascinating flowers, shrubs, and trees characteristic of the local landscape. A very interesting walk, although it was so cold it was occassionally difficult to concentrate on the specific leaf or twig under observation. It's been quite chilly here, with a few more momentary flurries of snow over the past few days (although nothing lasting) and ice beginning to form over the dewponds.
Another fun event was the birthday party of Katherine, a Canadian girl in my Cell Group (aka Bible study), which was last night from 7-10. She had prepared huge plates of sushi, sliced veggies, and homemade cookies, as well as three double-layer chocolate cakes, and organized a number of party games for the 30-40 people who showed up. Games included that one where you get a name placed on your back (some figure from history, popular culture, fiction, mythology, the Bible, etc.) and try to guess the identity by walking around and asking other people yes or no questions, and the one where you tie balloons to your ankles and try to pop everyone else's while keeping yours intact, as well as a number of games involving sitting in a circle with one person in the middle who tries, by various means, to get into one of the seats, thereby forcing someone else to be stuck in the center. Great to have an evening of fun where no one found it necessary to chemically alter themselves in order to have a good time. I had met a lot of the people before through Skeptics Anonymous or Christian Union, and it was fun getting to know them better through some silly games. Great musical selection as well--such classics as "I Will Survive" and "YMCA".
Let's see, as an update on the homesickness front (these will probably continue until it fades completely, if it ever does, or at least reaches some kind of plateau), in general I am content to be here and enjoying the many things I'm learning and doing and people I'm meeting. There are still twinges of wishing I was at home, mostly when I wake up in the morning or when I'm walking from place to place and otherwise unoccupied, and I think they're partially homesickness and partially that desire to escape the responsibility of school and homework and just get to sit home and read books and have fun, both of which are quite possibly exacerbated by my curtailed and busy Christmas vacation. Which really just means I will appreciate being home when I get there (and will probably spend a good deal of my time when I return refusing to leave). In the meantime, I'm glad I'm here and am looking forward, also, to the many adventures I will have before I return to family, friends, and familiarity.
Only one other thing clouds the otherwise sunny situation--that terrible nemesis of the literarily minded: the dreaded Writer's Block. One of my many goals in coming here was to seize the opportunity presented by less academic and theatrical temporal obligation in order to spend at least an hour a day at the task of "playwrighting," whatever form that took. The first few weeks here were too filled with the errands of getting settled in here to allow for that, but this week presented the first snippets of available free time. Dutifully, on Tuesday I sat before the blank screen of my computer, an hour set aside, and attempted to begin. I have a play I'm halfway through, which I could have continued work on (the fairytale play where the actors emerge from the audience, for anyone I've explained it to) but I've recently wanted to prove to myself that I have the ability to pursue my true purpose in writing, which is to write plays with some sort of useful purpose and spiritual truth. The fairytale play, while fun, is essentially fluffy and without much underlying meaning, so I decided to try to start something new and slightly more meaningful. And was confronted, quite brutally, with a mind as blank as the screen before me, and a seizing fear that perhaps I don't have what it takes to follow through with this life goal of mine.
Now of course, you can't expect inspiration to come on command, nor a play to be written in a single hour, and if God has playwrighting planned for me then He will give me the inspiration and the ability. But it was a scary thing, sitting there staring at the computer, writing words I knew to be absolute worthless garbage, and envisioning the crumbling of all the work and study I've done so far and all the plans I had for the future. If they're meant to crumble, of course, let them crumble. And perhaps they are not--one day's difficulty is no indication one way or the other. But what a scary thing to watch. Scary enough to have kept me from trying again the past few days. The trouble is, when I'm so busy I know I'll never have time to write, a million ideas occur to me, but once I finally have the time to write inspiration runs dry, and the ideas I wrote down in more imaginative times are either nonsensical, uninteresting, or impossibly daunting. Alas.
Anway, otherwise all is well here. The sunsets are incredible, and yesterday I saw a fragment of rainbow shining in a wisp of cloud on an otherwise sunny day. Have you ever seen such a thing? It's quite breathtaking. Pictures of people and places, as well as some descriptions, will be posted, I hope, in the next couple days. Until then, I hope you are all happy, healthy, and working your way successfully along towards whatever you see in your own future. My love as always.