I have a friend who likes to tell me–whether sincerely or sarcastically I sometimes cannot tell–that I’m the kind of guy who, when life throws shit at me, just keeps on smiling. And I suppose it’s true. If you’re a longtime reader, you might recall past discussions on regret and pessimism that asserted I believe everything must work out in the end, and that the best way to survive is to keep smiling–even if it’s only a choice, not a direct response.
So I keep on smiling.
But sometimes it feels there’s no need–because everything’s in order anyways.
December 1 is World AIDS Day. Today I’m commemorating the occasion in a mostly silent, academic way–the personal side of observance, though somewhere, feels absent. I have some poetry I’ve been meaning to share, some poetry I still need to build up some courage to share, but I’ll get there.
So today I’m writing a paper. It’s due in twelve hours and I haven’t even started it.
I was once told all of calculus, and by extension all of mathematics, was built upon an assumption, and that should this assumption prove false, everything we know about mathematics, physics, the world as a whole would just crumble into nothingness and we would be left to flounder in a world of unknown possibilities and frightening realizations.
The truth is that was all before I became a math major and learned this is just a staple fact of axiomatic math: We make initial assumptions, build systems upon them, but acknowledge that they only hold when those foundational axioms are true. (That’s why there’s multiple geometries–such as Euclidean and hyperbolic, etc.) So the world won’t come crashing down in fire and brimstone. We just know the rules won’t always apply.
The point of any of this is not at all mathematical–but factual. Like Tolkien posited, a reader will only believe so long as the writer has sufficiently sowed a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader–the notion that, for a moment, we will ignore the rules we know in favor of the rules we wish to believe. For a brief few moments, dashing from word to word across the page, we forget that reality has bounds and for a moment become limitless.
I’ve lived my own life as both reader and writer: I’ve laid a foundation of beliefs upon basic axiomatic assumptions, and as I write these words, I fear I’m losing hold of my own willing suspension of disbelief.
It’s been no secret my summer is unusually short this year, and as such, it’s been no secret how hard I’ve had to push myself to complete not only my manageable goals for the year but also my stretch goals for the summer.
Although it’s hard to realize (and harder to say), this is my last monthly goal report before my summer shrivels up and leaves me in the midst of an extraordinarily busy semester.
One of the first things I found myself doing after I got home on winter break was make up a table of goals, priorities, and steps to get from one to the other (or from the other to the one, as it should happen to be). It’s a planning technique I learned from the coordinator of the NCPIRG group that’s trying to get started at N.C. State. It’s essentially an activist group for issues especially relevant to students and since the election, I’ve been moderately involved; it’s very methodical, however, especially machine-like, and that somewhat deters me from going in deeper, although I think it’s an experience I’m likely to enjoy.
But that’s next year, and I’m still struggling through today.
An infinite number of finite moments ago, it was the end of October and I was sitting here, on the other side of your computer screen, writing about the momentous month ahead of us: November. Somehow it’s now December and November is an infinite number of finite moments ago and it feels like I haven’t said a word since.
In a word, it’s been busy–possibly even infinitely busy.
Should I begin at the beginning? I promise, it won’t take me forever.
I figured I’d update you all on my progress sooner than this–but I’m not surprised why I’m only here now. I haven’t written anything today. (Please ignore for the moment I’m an afternoon-evening-night kind of writer, so it’s not late enough in the day for this to be atypical yet.) And yesterday? My smallest wordcount all month. Yes, I was riding a night of no sleep, I had work and a workshop and they both overlapped, and I was preoccupied by math and hexaflexagons all day, but I wrote fewer pages than I had on any other day all month.
I’d finally come upon my story: I saw a name and I saw a scene. Snow. Nighttime. The auroras. And then–quite literally–the sky was falling and things were falling into place.
Today began NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month–and so far I’ve won each of the six years I’ve participated since 2006. It’s become something I look forward to every year, the only time I truly give myself permission to do something I love just for the sake of loving it without allowing anything–or anyone–to get in my way. It’s selfish, but cathartic: In years past, I’ve discovered the story I write becomes a time capsule capturing my life at its moment of conception.
But I’m not here to preach about why I NaNo. I’m here to start an adventure–and to bring you along for the ride.
In two days the month will change from October to November when the clock strikes midnight and National Novel Writing Month will begin–and it’ll also be time for me to re-evaluate my goals for another month. November is oft a time of intense chaos, and not just because of NaNoWriMo, so I figured I’d cheat fate and make this early as opposed to late.
I’ll begin at square one: My goals for this month.
It occurred to me halfway through dinner that I never actually got around to reevaluating my goals for this month. See, I had hoped to do it a day early, but that fell through and I didn’t realize it hadn’t been done. But it’s a worthy wait, because tonight I can talk even more about my goals than I could’ve then.
If inspiration can be stolen, opportune moments can only be stumbled upon, and until you’re lying face-first in the middle of that perfect, indescribable instance, you really won’t have a clue what hit you.