I doubt I would have even gone to college at all if my parents had not insisted on it. I really did not know what to study. My first choice of college was a school one of my (I thought) best friends attended. They were not happy about my grades. So another classmate suggested I apply to her choice. It made sense– at the time I was a New Jersey transplant and she was headed to North Carolina, my home state. As it happened my application was swept up because 100% of applicants were accepted to keep the little Quaker school afloat. And it is still floating.
Not surprising my freshman roommate did not make it past first semester. Had the school offered majors in marijuana and live-in boyfriends she’d have aced. So my second semester I went from endless nights sleeping on the commons area sofa to a single room.
But I digress.
Having no clear idea what I wanted to do with my life I declared an English major. For a reader it made sense. The critical thinking part I had to tweak a bit.
Likely the most difficult class was Modern Lit– D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Pretty sure I didn’t read more than a chapter or 2 of Ulysses. Probably the most senseless novel I read. Ever. Not only no punctuation but pages with nothing but doodles… Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was also completely lost on me. Somehow I managed to write coherent papers on these “works” but I’d have liked to’ve been a fly on the wall in my professor’s office just to see her try to make sense of my words. Especially with Woolf’s To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway. None of these books made a lasting impression on me. Certainly not like C. G. Jung’s Man’s Search for Meaning did freshman year.
Meaning? Seriously? I’d been raised to see the world completely differently, from the perspective of what I had to offer, not what it owed me. I guess my professors could see I was thinking just not as they intended.
C. S. Lewis (someone who makes infinitely more sense to me) in Christian Reflections said: “Great authors are innovators, pioneers, explorers; bad authors bunch in schools and follow models.”
Well, these authors noted certainly did break all the molds which was why they were called modern I suppose. They broke free from the late 19th-20th century to be… themselves??
A few years after my divorce life started bunching up. Bills, behavior, responsibilities, jobs, all the obligations and processes single parenthood requires, in my case with little to no support. So realizing I would not benefit from any sort of therapy I bought a small electric typewriter and reams of paper and I wrote.
It was as if I tapped whatever the emotional lobe of the brain is and the words just ran. I filled pages and pages until I had 5 binders’ full of raw emotion. I am amazed they did not spontaneously combust in their box I had so much anger poured into them
Annoyance at the musty stigma of divorce, single parenting, lack of family support, a woman in what was then still largely a man’s world. I never blamed anything or anyone but first I had to establish the parameters of what I was up against before I could methodically, systematically start to tackle whatever blocked my way.
And I started to see those complaints, emotions, thoughts, anger, whatever, were all cries for help. Help that I would never find from people but did from God. So those words became prayers. And everything that I had begun to hide from, close myself to, strike out at fell away.
My perspective changed. My focus was no longer on my life, problems, dead ends but Someone else. Someone who made sense. Someone who could, and did, help.
Lewis goes on to say “…. authors are always ‘breaking fetters’ and ‘breaking bonds’. They have personality, they ‘are themselves’….”
I have not had the nerve to go back and read those journals since I packed them away, but I probably had better. At least to decide if I really want them around for someone else to find.
They came from the heart.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17