Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Runaway graduate student is back

Today I ran away from everything. I woke up at 5:00 am, took the first train, and went to Chicago all alone. Okay okay I'm just joking. I guess I just wanted to sound a little more adventurous and bolder than I really am. But this story is not so far from the truth either. I did go to Chicago by the first train today but I was not really running away. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
It's the end of the semester and this semester has been particularly challenging for me, not because my courses were difficult or anything but because I lost my obsession with things that I encountered. To me, life is not life without being fascinated by something. Fascination is quite a serious matter for me because I am not used to 'just liking an article' or 'finding something somewhat interesting' and live my life like that. Every semester I find something I get fascinated by, something that takes my breath away, something I start reading obsessively about, something I cannot stop talking or writing about. For some reason this has not been happening this semester. I'm afraid all my muses left me, and I do work with inspiration. To be honest, I do not know what to do without it. So this semester I have been doing what I think is expected of me without finding much joy in what I do. I guess that is partly why I stopped writing entries for my blog. In any event, as a result of all this I have been feeling a little burned out. Do you ever feel burned out? Do you sometimes feel much older than you really are or as if you are carrying the world on your shoulders? I guess that's how I have been feeling this semester. I just lost my balance I guess.
Anyway, I'm sure this is a temporary thing. Actually I am certain that it is mostly related to sleep deprivation so I am not really concerned. But I was concerned about if I could find the energy to finish this semester.  So, I felt like in order to remain sane, I needed a break. That's why, I decided to take the day off and go to the real world to gain some perspective. I had to pick up my passport from the consulate anyway, well, I could have requested it via mail but waiting for the mail would have stressed me out. Besides this gave me a good excuse to go away. Perhaps it was an impulsive decision but I think it was good for me. Well ask me again when I submit all my final papers. What do you do when you feel burned out? I'm sure there are better ways to deal with it than what I did. So here is what I did today.
I woke up before the sun was up, went to the train station, didn't mind much about the cold or traveling alone (I always freak out when I have to travel alone). I walked in the dark, said good morning to the birds who sang me on the way, and I have to admit I sang to them a little too. I think doing something different seeing a different pace of life made me feel alive. I took the bus and arrived the train station in time. The kiosk was not working so I couldn't get my ticket but I showed my reservation to the conductor and everything went smoothly. As I was waiting I started reading my new book Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition edited by dear adviser and continued reading it on the train. I have been looking forward to this book for a long time. It was wonderful to read something just because I enjoyed it not because I had to. On the train, I watched the world flow beside me from my window. I fell a sleep at some point and dreamed about nice things.
Finally, I arrived in Chicago. The city surprised me with its pace, colors, smells, and sights, it filled me with new sensations. I saw the homeless, the seagulls, the river, the taxis, the traffic, and the busy people of Chicago. Fortunately, the windy city was not that windy. After picking up my passport I was free to do whatever I liked. So after eating something, I went to my favorite place in Chicago, the park next to the Art Institute. Unfortunately, the fountain was not working but the trees were there so I took some pictures and enjoyed myself for a while. I could not help but think that I was like that empty pool, beautiful when the fountains are working extremely sad when the pool is empty or stagnant. Then I went to the Museum and spent my remaining hours in Chicago with Chagall, Picasso, Monet, Gaugin, and Van Gogh (my all time favorite painter). Don't tell my husband but it was one hell of a date ^_^. I visited the impressionists section, the Japanese art section, which always gives me inner peace, and my favorite sculpture in addition to other things. In short, I immersed myself in beauty and I think I'm cured. So this is my little adventure. Do you think I found my muse in the Art Institute and in my secret garden next to it? I sure hope so.
Now I'm back safe and sound. Tomorrow is a new day. Tonight I want to dream that I am floating in a Chagall painting, preferably one with a grumpy goat, a weepy violin, and a fruit yielding tree in it. Good night!
PS. Here is my secret garden

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