I'm somewhat of a school addict. If I could take on as my permanent job that of STUDENT, I would be quite pleased. Being a student is actually similar to being a triathlete in training.
When training, you are working toward something great. You are working toward betterment, toward achievement, toward glory, toward greatness. Your training has a purpose outside of just being a way to keep thin, to keep in shape, to stave off mortality. Being a student is similar. Your reading, writing and insight have purpose when you are taking a class. They are attached to a goal--that of getting a good grade and that of being more articulate, better read and more knowledgeable than Bob who is sitting next to you in class.
A grade--A race. Same idea.
I get to work toward something--and that thing, though contrived, is also real. You really do compete in a race; you really do receive a grade. Once that carrot (the race/the grade) is taken from me, however, my effort seems without purpose--just a silly self-indulgence. Of course, you and I both know that even attached to a race or a grade, training and reading/writing is just as much a form of self indulgence. I'm not out to better the world; I'm out to "better" (read indulge) me. I could get all nihilist on you and explain how since the world is inherently devoid of meaning except that which I ascribe to it, I need these contrivances to get me up in the morning. But that's probably a bit much for 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
Anyway. Often in the off season I start hankering for goals. Usually this results in me starting a bunch of big projects that I can't execute properly once my training and racing picks up again. Nevertheless, I can't seem to help myself. This week, after my work and short workouts were done, I spent time building a list of classic literature I want to read in the next five years. I've set goals like this before (that is, to read a set amount of a type of literature in a prescribed period of time), but, as explained earlier, when the goal isn't attached to something outside of me--like a race or a grade--I have trouble sticking with it. But this time... this time I found something--a lovely contrivance to keep me working! I am joining a blogger group called The Classics Club. On it you post a list of the 50+ plus classics you plan to read in the next five years. As you read through the list, you blog about each book. Here is my list.
I did something similar to this in my late 20s. I didn't join a group, but I did make a list of classics I wanted to read. These classics had to have had movie versions made of them, however. I'd finish a classic and then reward myself by viewing the movie. I remember I made Andy watch all the movies with me. At the time I kept a journal of my thoughts--whether the movie did justice to the book, or not. I'll be damned if I can find the journal now, of course. Another awesome project alive only in my brain... and not on paper. Of course, even when you have written or photographic evidence of a successful project, it still really only exists in your brain as a fragmented and imperfect memory.
I'm posting this in my reading blog, where I will detail my classics reading, and on my tri blog just IN CASE any of you triathletes are also closet classics lovers and want to journey over to Reading It to read about my adventures in Classics reading.
I finished Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meaning this week. Can you believe I hadn't read that one? I know. Me too. I loved it... but honestly I loved Cider House and Garp more. Owen slides into the number 3 spot of best loved Irving books for me. I also just finished Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers. You know, I really did NOT think I would like that one. The premise, that a huge portion of the world population vanishes into apocalyptic air, irritated me. Was this going to be like Left Behind? But I knew Perrotta does not espouse any one particular religious view, so my curiosity was peaked. The novel is more of a character study -- imagining how individuals would respond in the wake of an apocalyptic occurrence.
Okay, triathletes. Enough on books.
Next post will be back to our regularly scheduled programming.
One point five weeks until I begin actual TRAINING again!