Back to another semester of school work. These first days are always a mix of awkward and really rewarding. Christmas break always ends up feeling too long and by the end of it I just have an overwhelming desire to get back and into the "swing of things." The problem right now is that over break I am in the swing of nothing, sleeping too long and not really challening myself in any meaningful way. Not that it is as bad as recently post high school but that seven a.m. wake up always comes more quickly than you thought and it is amazing at how tired really learning something is. I think most people out of school forget this fact all too quickly, college is good for its seeming lack of structure and class time at the same moment it is really burdensome in its mental gymnastics. After three classes a day I am almost ready for a mid afternoon nap before starting to actually read assigned reading or additional challenging work. Any job I have had while being stressful for the time commitment or odd demands has ever been to me nearly as mentally draining as this college atmosphere.
The thing is that for most people there is very little changing mental challenge in the job, for the most part it is a slight modificaiton on a repetitive task. We do relatively the same thing and get very good at it, that if we have to change after a while it sometimes feels overwhelming. Changes implemented often aren't that difficult but are in the sense that we haven't been really asked to change our thinking about how we are doing very often. In fact bringing a fresh perspective or a skeptical eye to our assigned task is usually met with more questioning and trying to get you to fit a mold than take your different views as possibly better or even worthwhile. That's unfortunate as I feel simply turning employees into automatons that can be interchanged with similar workers at different locatiions is not really beneficial to the system. As much as we want to believe economic specialization allows us to produce the most, does it really feel like the most rewarding? In a culture where we worship products and their accumulation does anyone feel satisfied because we are in a system that allows us to get so many of them at an affordable price? Of course there are those initial moments of happiness at obtaining a new shiny thing, but I don't think many people will write novels or biographies about how the first flat screen television or iPhone really changed their life or made them see the world differently. Perhaps the designers of those products came claim those things but I don't think that your average consumer can.
So where does college fit in? For a lot of people it is a ground to manufacture their mind into becoming a really specialized cog, one capable of a specific high level task that will reward them with more products. Instead of becoming free thinkers they see college as becoming completely controlled thinkers. I don't think it is the best use of time but after the demanding time of learning and mental stress, who wouldn't want an easy(ish) reward for their mental gymnastics? Who wouldn't want to sell out to such a job? I think working pre college made me skeptical of studying for a career though I am also not 100% sure that studying for a career is really as worthwhile as people say it can be. The goal for me is building or creating then not trying to maximize value in a system but to build something that could benefit the system in one way or another. The hard part now is deciding where those talents can be best applied for people: medicine, engineering, design, art, chemistry, electronics? All allow for the improving of the human condition and for creation. I think the key is a human need for creation and creating and most people have simply confused the accumulation of goods as creation and it just is not the same. Building a house is not buying one, though one allows for the creation of other goods. People just have to realize with so many things easily available we have to continue to look for things to create. In the words of a student here we all have to build.
- ...if I only i had thought of something charming to say