Same and different


I surprised myself today.  I was at Starbucks, waiting for the bus; there was nothing to do, so I got out the notebook.  In twenty minutes or so, I had scribbled four poems and finished one started previously.  Typing them up this evening, a few things stood out to me:
  1. I've gone back to rhyme
  2. My endings are improving
  3. My tone has changed
  4. I'm writing poetry again. 
That empty-ish file "Poems3" is getting larger, slowly yet surely.

For me, poetry is more therapy than creativity, so maybe this should not be surprising.  If the first words come into my head, I want to write them down.  Usually, the rest follows.  If it weren't for feeling that need to write it, this would be a utilitarian process.  The truth is, the need propels me more than the wish does, and in that need are my best words.

* * *

In other news, I've been pretty tired lately.  The last couple of weekends I've stayed up on half-nighters finishing an Android app project.  Tomorrow is my recuperation day, just pulling myself together in time for Thursday's midterm.

Overall, it's been a splendid quarter.  Some experiences push you out of your comfort zone in a bad way.  In these three classes, it's been a positive thing.  I feel keenly (oddly) conscious I will look back happily on this quarter, in spite of its challenges.  I'll be glad to remember I programmed my first app, wrote decent C code, and heard some excellent lectures in my operating systems class.  It's good to finish up school on a good note.

Future plans, etudes, and Hornblower

"What are your plans now?"  This is what the miserly Uncle Ebenezer says, quite cunningly, to his nephew Davie Balfour in R. L. Stevenon's Kidnapped (2005, BBC).  Davie has a plan, yet little does he know of all the things that will happen to him before it is accomplished.

Cloudscape (2013)
I have one definite post-graduation plan: take my degree and get a job.  It's time to work and start being responsible for myself.  I also have abstract ideas about the future, from as feasible as pursuing another degree to as crazy as starting a newspaper.  That said, having the fortune of prior experience - as well as reading books like this - I've seen truths that are stranger than fiction.  My plans aren't the be-all and end-all, and who knows what will have happened by the time I reach point B.

Before college, I spent a significant part of my daily life practicing music.  First flute, then violin, and off-and-on through the years, piano.  I had to quit music lessons when I started college, because of the time, money, and fatigue factors.  Imagine drinking coffee every day of your life and then one morning, having to give it up!  I later asked myself, what had been the point of those years of practice?  Why had I given so much to something with no future?

The answer finally came recently, and only in the context of recent events.  Inherently, I had never been talented at music; I just worked hard at it.  But it was this discipline and physical-mental endurance that has carried over to the present time.  Those hideous etudes (at which I was particularly bad) taught me something about persistence and will power that college never could.  When you are sawing away for half an hour at double-stops, you are alone in your room, you are failing in your own eyes, and everyone else has temporarily lost all appreciation of your playing.  But you keep going, you keep going, and that's the point.

Since I'm on the topics of will power and BBC TV fandoms, let me segue to Hornblower.

© BBC
Hornblower is a little-known BBC film series from the late 90s/early 2000s.  It follows the start of the career of Horatio Hornblower, an introspective young man who joins the Royal Navy right before the Napoleonic Wars.  For those who love Age of Sail dramas, it's one of the best out there, in terms of plot, characterization, and even cinematography.

Two themes have stuck with me from this series: duty and conscience.   The father-figure character of Captain Pellew is the embodiment of duty.  Then there is Horatio Hornblower himself, who is frequently tested by his conscience.  Together they illustrate the relation between these two points.  That is, if you have a "prime directive," you can't just go flying off into the blue.  You're duty-bound to uphold the principles you have promised to uphold.  The time it is acceptable to break it is when your conscience - or better yet, some Commandment higher than man-made law - tells you you must take different action in order to do what is right.

© BBC
Hornblower's overarching achievement can be thought of as fulfillment first, success second.  You may do the right thing and bad things may still happen.  You may even meet with failure.  Still, nothing can take fulfillment, or a clear conscience, away from you.  And again, who am I to define futility?  Just as with the etudes, there is a reason, a very good reason that things happen the way they do.

I used to dread thinking about the future, but this year is different.