Over the Edge of the Wild

Here is a .gif that sums up how I feel 2014 ended:

jackIt was a good year, but about half of it was incredibly difficult. The last few months involved balancing two writing/reading intensive classes while working a 30 hour per week job that was also writing intensive. As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be working full-time this year, which means more work and responsibility and, consequently, more money. This is good.

But I still have two more classes before I graduate, and both are 500-level classes. Both look to be writing and reading intensive again. I need both to graduate. And so, I’m looking at about 16 weeks of very little free time. This could be bad if I don’t enjoy the classes.

While I know intellectually that I will come through this fine and I will do as good as I can under the circumstances, I am anxious in a way I haven’t been since I returned to school two and a half years ago. The end of 2014 rattled me hard. I doubt myself in ways that I haven’t in a very long time. I am in too many new circumstances and I don’t have enough experience navigating them to feel confident in myself.

Today I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition with my wife and one of my sisters-in-law. This was the first time watching the movie since I saw the theatrical edition when it first came out. The first time I saw the movie (on New Year’s Eve), I was excited for the great adventure the new year would bring. Today, I felt drawn to the difficult journey and the unlikeliness of success. Characters pursuing a goal with everything against them, some unaware of their chances, others fully aware but moving forward with hope.

I have a good idea of what is ahead. I don’t know if I have much hope, however. And while I find great comfort and strength in how the film portrays Thorin in that movie, I know how his story ends (From the book, at least. I have yet to see The Battle of The Five Armies, though I assume his fate is the same. No spoilers, please.)

This is, in part, why I am going against my usual trend and am looking ahead to 2015 now. In the past, I have preferred to do such reflection on my birthday. However, tomorrow starts my 16-week journey, so it feels appropriate. I want to look back after graduation and see where I was. Hopefully doing this will give me some encouragement and help me enter the next phase of my life.

So, call them resolutions, goals, dreams, or whatever. This is what I want to do in the coming year.

  1. I have a job, so I don’t need to worry so much about getting straight A’s this semester. Last semester ended that streak anyway. While I would still love to accomplish this, the amount of work required and the amount of time I actually have may not be conducive to this. So I will be content with passing and graduating.
  2. Since I watched An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition the day before this journey begins, I think it would be appropriate to watch the extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug at the half-way point (Spring Break) and The Battle of The Five Armies at the end, so after graduation.
  3. In conjunction with these, I would like to save up for and purchase better movie-watching technology for our space. At the moment, we have a large TV in the corner, and we have to move couches or chairs to watch things. There is a lot of furniture arrangement when we have guests for viewing parties. In truth, I would love to have more viewing parties, but I haven’t felt that our space really suited such activities. I would like to work toward that. So, the saving would be for flat screen television appropriate for our space and maybe a bit up an upgrade to the sound system, which is just a fifteen-year old stereo with A/V jacks. I don’t need top of the line, but I would like something bigger and with better sound. I confess that my vision, even with glasses, isn’t what it once was. (I’m thankful that my new job has a vision plan.) It would be great to break in this new set-up after graduation.
  4. At graduation, I don’t want to feel like the previously posted .gif.
  5. As per my usual GoodReads tradition, I want to meet my reading goal for the year. My goal this year is 50 books.
  6. I want to feel depressed less.
  7. From June until the end of the year, I want to update this blog at least once a week.
  8. After graduation, I want to give serious thought to what the next phase of my life should look like. While I understand that we have less control over this than we sometimes think, I know from past experience that it would be very easy for me to settle in to a pattern of working to earn money for escapism. I don’t want my life to be lived as endless escape, constantly ignoring the world in order to retreat into my own mind. I’m a writer, so there will need to be some amount of internal world-building and dialoging, but it must be held in balance and not be pursued at the expense of living a life that give me fulfilment. At the moment, I don’t know what that looks like. I think I’ve been avoiding the question, but after graduation, I need to give this serious thought.
  9. I want to find a group of people who will play table-top RPGs with me. Again, by necessity this should probably start after I graduate, but I have an intense longing to play The One Ring, Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or any number of games by Pelgrane Press. This may require me pursuing relationships outside my normal circle, and possibly stepping out on my own into uncomfortable spaces.

Some of these are pretty heavy goals, I know. Some of them, I don’t even know where to start. Although, voicing them is a start. Putting them into writing is the first step. I don’t know where this year will lead, and I don’t know if I will meet these goals. Neither do I expect them to be quick or easy. But I think they are worth pursuing.

If I have time, I will try to keep you informed about how things are going and about whatever else may be on my mind.

Having been inspired by the works of Tolkien, I will end with two of his quotes:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

“Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back and home to bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!”

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