Return

I feel frustrated and slightly overwhelmed. Tomorrow I return to Raleigh to start my second semester, and in all honesty, I’m not sure if I’m more anxious or excited. I haven’t accomplished all the goals I wanted to make before going back to campus, but those I haven’t reached I’ve planned to do elsewise. And although today is Saturday and there are only four more lessons in the third book of the Pirkei Avot, I just haven’t felt in sound mind to write about that today (and when I read what it said, I felt it even less).

I need focus. But focus is hard to find in a world full of Facebook.

Going back means packing and figuring out what I’ll need on campus and making sure I don’t forget anything. Going back means starting one of the busiest semesters I think I’ll ever have–and really not knowing if it’ll be as bad, better, or worse than I imagine it (but as statistics would say, it’s sure to be different than what I’ve imagined).

CHAOS

Sometimes my mind feels a lot like this.

Going back means waking up early, moving in a hundred different directions, facing deadlines and unending stress.

Going back means it’s only fifty or so days until I’m in Belize–and that means it’s fewer than fifty days that I have to pay for it. It means starting a new job, going back to my old job, and hoping I can balance work and a busier scheduler given the chaos of the fall (especially since the spring always seems more chaotic in general).

I’ll feel better once the semester starts. I know I will. It’ll just take some time to adjust. I foresee being up all night in preparation, even though I don’t want to be. I foresee taking longer than intended to put my room on campus back together. I foresee being more unprepared than I actually feel.

In the mean time all I want to do is nothing at all. I want to play video games. I want to read. I want to write. I feel like after tomorrow, I won’t have time for these things anymore. It’s a silly feeling, really, especially since part of my goals for the year is to make time for all of these things. Things always change slowest at the extremes, and with this sudden outpouring of change, I foresee a shift from one extreme to the next–but unable to graph this function before it forms, I have no idea if it’ll be increasing or decreasing until I get there.

Normally by this point I’ve got an idea of what a semester will offer. This time I don’t. I feel like I’m wading into dark and deep waters. I feel like I’m pushing off the shore into a subterranean lake where I can neither see the end nor where I’m going, and at any moment, I might be assaulted by sad creatures trying to eat me and the only way to save myself will be a game of riddles–and I can’t think under pressure!

And yet something about all of this is very surreal. I recall, coming back from Israel, I felt both as if I were leaving home and returning home, and now on the brink of going back to campus, I feel the same way. Earlier today I even called campus “home” without realizing it. Perhaps that realization that “home” doesn’t feel as much like my only home is part of my apprehension in packing. It’s hard to say. I know my left brain well; my right brain and I don’t always see eye-to-eye.

This morning when I read Torah, I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time and it felt wonderful and encouraging. And while I was reading Torah, I was trembling. I always do, no matter how well-prepared I am, no matter how well I know something, no matter how much I know that I know it. Today I misread one word entirely. The light glares on the letters in this new scroll and they always have, and this time it reflected back at the right angle and blinded me in just the right way to change “lo” into “kol”–“no” into “everything.”

Maybe I’m blinded right now and mistaking nothing for everything. All this worry, all this unease, it’s coming from nowhere for no reason–yet in this moment, it consumes me. Maybe it’s just a trick of the light.

Maybe it’s just a trick of the light.

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