When this year began, there were a lot of things I’d never done before. I’d never spent more than two weeks outside the United States. I’d never been left to my own devices with a classroomful of children. I’d never lived in a real city (sorry, Tulsa). I’d never been to Asia. I’d never held a full-time job. I’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never kissed a guy. So, yes, as should be obvious by this point, I’ve experienced a lot of firsts this year.
I’m not sure how anyone else’s 2013 went, but mine was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. People seem commonly to arrive at year’s end and experience mostly mixed sentiments. To be honest, I don’t really understand why. I’ve long believed that one of the principal keys to, if not happiness, then contentment is the robust management of expectation.
The days are getting shorter and the air is growing crisp. I love that word, crisp. Want to know a word I don’t like? Autumn. What a useless, unromantic, pseudo-sophisticated sounding word. “Spring” so perfectly captures the essence of the sudden gushing forth of life following its long, dreary winter dormancy, and in a way that “autumn” can never even approach for the season properly known as the Fall. Ah, there we go: the Fall; life’s realization that winter’s encroach is nigh and then its slow, symphomic tumble to the Earth below in peaceful resignation. Sure, the leaves are dying, but have you ever appreciated how happily they do it? They deck themselves in such gay colors as to make my queer heart approach jealousy and glimmer so glamorously as to make even the sternest curmudgeon soften if only a little. If only all life were as beautiful at the moment of death, then maybe we wouldn’t dread it so.
Confession: I’ve never really had a firm grasp of what I wanted to do with my life. Shocking, I know, because I’m pretty sure all (or most) twenty-something college grads who randomly move to Korea know the answer to that question. The name of my blog, random though its inception may have been, has become a “profound” question of sorts–what does it mean to be “roygeneable”? Hell if I know, and that’s the point: I’m looking for something that’s roygeneable, that’s me. Of course, I’ve always had a lot of options and a lot of different things I found mildly interesting. Teaching was probably at the top of that very long list, but it definitely wasn’t and isn’t anything I would call a “passion.” A great many of the people I know really like using that word and its meaning has unfortunately been numbed–sort of like the word “love.” I became an ESL teacher because I needed something fun to do for a few years where I could make good money and pay off loans. The job is terrific, but it’s not even remotely something I’d want as a career.
Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory (1931), Museum of Modern Art (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
I’ll lead by saying this probably isn’t the sort of post everyone will find riveting. All I can say is, It’s about time. Literally.
During the research phase of writing my senior paper, I came across a study done by Stanford professor Lera Boroditsky that looked at the different frameworks within English and Mandarin concerning how to express the abstract concept of time in spatial terms. Okay, now let’s unpack that. First, what do I mean “the abstract concept of time”? Well, I mean time as independent from the arbitrary measurements we impose on it. We measure time in hours, days, weeks, years, etc. for a reason–actually many different reasons. A year is, of course, the length of time it takes the planet to travel once in its elliptical path around the Sun. While a “day” is the length of time the Earth takes to make one rotation on its axis (which, to note, is not constant), how the day is subdivided is an ancient, arbitrary determination, with the roots of the 24-hour day lying in pharaonic Egypt. The concept of a seven-day week is primarily an outgrowth of Christian and Jewish beliefs concerning creation while other cultures have different week-lengths.
What if it were that easy?
Dumbledore has an armory of peculiar magical devices in J. K. Rowling’s story of Harry Potter but there’s one that’s of particular interest to me. He keeps it locked away in a cupboard and when the young wizard first stumbles upon it toward the end of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it’s only a short time until the final contest of the Triwizard Tournament. After having a vision of the dark lord Voldemort, Harry finds himself in Dumbledore’s office and accidentally discovers the object in the cupboard, left slightly ajar: it’s the Pensieve and Harry’s curiosity gets the better of him when he leans in too close to the shining basin and falls in, finding himself doused in the headmaster’s memories.
As with many things in Rowling’s books, “Pensieve” is a play on words: “pensive” means to be thoughtful or absorbed in deep reflection and contemplation. Dumbledore periodically takes his memories–which appear as a wispy white vapor on the tip of his wand–from his head and drops them into the Pensieve where he will return to examine them on occasion to search for “patterns and links.” Continue reading