Queuing up the Dream State

Never got around to publishing this yesterday because I was too busy playing WoW.


Whenever I game for a long time (like the approximately 8 hours I did Friday night), it influences my dreams. Playing World of Warcraft as I did, I had expected dreams of slaying undead and riding dragons, but something else entirely happened.

WoW has added a way to queue for a dungeon, so you just hit a button and it signs you up, notifies you when a group is ready, and teleports you in when you accept. As I slept last night, I didn’t exactly enter a lucid dream state, but I did have a sensation of queuing my dreams.

I was able to queue three dreams total, including my current one, so there would be two waiting for when they were needed. This wasn’t too big a deal until I started to wake up in the morning, but because I had dreams queued I would immediately go back to sleep and slip into the next dream. I kept queuing dreams until I felt like getting up, and then I had to go through two more dreams before I could awake.

Not sure if the queuing was part of my dreams as well or if it’s actually possible to control our dream state like this, but it was pretty cool 🙂

Give Yourself Time To Think

Several years ago I traveled to Europe for a wedding and stayed for a vacation. By the end of my tour I was penniless and pretty homesick, so instead of going to pubs and watching the World Cup in the company of the wonderful British peoples, I sat beside the river Thames and thought.

To be honest, I didn’t have much of a choice at the time (I couldn’t even afford a book to read), but the experience was wildly liberating and wonderful nonetheless. I never gave myself time to sit and think back home because I always felt like I had to be doing something. I always needed to be researching and writing, or cleaning and doing chores around the house, or playing a game, etc. I never gave my mind time to wander.

And if you don’t give your mind time to wander, it’s not going to find anything new. Sometimes you need to just open the window and let it fly–Neverland could be out there for all you know, but you’ve never gone to look! Giving ourselves time to think will make our activities more meaningful and our writing of higher quality. It will also decrease our stress and help us deal with the world around it because we have let our mind organize and address everything it has been taking in.

Sleep is a wonderful means of dealing with the day and encoding memories, but how often do you remember your dreams? Let yourself dream and think at times throughout the day and see what you find.

So long, Heartbreak. Hello Dreams!

My frustration about school and the attendance thereof has only become more pointed as this year has progressed. We’re barely a month into the semester and my two classes have been infuriating. One is Children’s Literature and is essentially, “How to teach literature to children between the ages of two and five,” which is definitely not how it was described in the course catalog. The other is The Life and Thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and we have yet to discuss the good doctor, let alone his life and/or thoughts. We have instead been treated to many rambling and often racist stories by our professor, unclear expectations and assignments, and a litany of “extra credit” opportunities that often manage to involve attending his church.

The real issue is that these classes, and most any classes for that matter, prevent me from pursuing my dreams in the here and now. I can’t write when I’m taking two classes a semester. There are two reasons for this:

  1. My work requires a lot of time dealing with people, particularly in management situations. For someone as introverted as me, this is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I already have a regularly scheduled game night on Fridays that takes some of my energy, and when you add in two classes for a total of three days a week, each requiring twelve to fifteen hours of extroversion, I’m wiped out. Deeper thought and the writing that would come out of it aren’t reasonable in those circumstances.
  2. Because of the previous issue, I use class as an excuse to not do work. Part of me recognizes that I’d completely burn out and have a nervous breakdown if I pushed myself much harder than I do and forced myself to do a lot of work and writing during my limited downtime, but I can’t ignore that this an excuse, not a reason. Ideally, I would be able to do everything, but that’s not feasible in real life. If I try to do everything, I’ll fail at everything. Being in class keeps me focused on the problem, not the solution. The solution is simple, but I’ve been too wrapped up in the problem to admit it.

It’s not the classes themselves, or even the six hours a week they take. It’s the poor state the entire schedule leaves me in. Six hours isn’t much, but the long days they lead to makes achieving my dreams impossible.

So I’m done. As of this semester, I was only enrolled for one reason: to be able to attend PAX ’10. I won’t be able to afford to go if I have to start paying on student loans, and if I’m not enrolled in six hours of classes a semester I’ll have to start paying. As much as it sucks to not go, though, I’d rather be happy and fulfilled 362 days of the year than have 3 days of revelry and good times with friends. My year and my life isn’t worth that.

I’ve already got the line item in and our budget balanced to accept this.

I’m not saying I’m dropping out entirely. When I see a night class that’s 300-level or above that looks interesting, I’ll take it. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the 2-3 classes I have left to finish my major and minor. I’ll probably take some graduate-level courses too (since they satisfy the Upper-Division Credit Hour requirement), though never more than one a semester, if they look fascinating and challenging. But I’m done with playing the game, staying enrolled for no good reason.

I realized last night what I want to do with my life in regards to work. It’s going to take a few years to get that set up, but I’m good with long-term plans. I’m tired of not starting, though. I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with college for four years now, and it’s time to do something about it.

Dropping Out

It may take me another 2+ years to graduate from college.

I’ve been a bit frustrated for years now. Though doing things I enjoy, I feel like my life and passions have been on hold so I can do the responsible thing. I want to finish what I start, and I want to help people, and I want to do it right. I basically put college on hold for two years to co-lead FnC–I couldn’t take upper-level classes at the time because I didn’t have enough time for more intense study or research. Then I got a full time job so I could afford to get married and subsequently start a family. Throughout it all, I’ve tried to balance school with the goal of getting a degree, and all along the way my writing has been on the back burner. It was what I ultimately wanted to focus on, but these other necessities took precedence.

Now I’m trying to finish my degree so I can move on and do what I want. I thought I just had another semester and a half, another seven months, and then I’d be done. I’d have a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with a minor in Creative Writing at the end of Spring 2010.

I was a double major (RS and CW), but today I dropped my second major down to a minor so I could graduate sooner. At the same time, I really examined my degree audit. For years, I’ve scheduled classes based on the general education and major/minor requirements, making sure I met each one. I took every night class I could that met those requirements because my work really doesn’t like me taking day classes. Since there are no night classes left to take, I began my last four courses before completing my degree, taking them during the day.

But it looks like I don’t just need four more courses. There’s a subsection on my degree audit I missed that states “40 hours upper-division credits required.” I have eighteen, with three more currently in progress. I need nineteen more.

I’ll get six next semester with my last 500-levels. That leaves me still needing thirteen. At six hours a semester, that’s three semesters. Conversely, I could try to take nine hours during one semester (on top of 40 hours of work), but most 300-levels that would satisfy this requirement aren’t offered at night at Missouri State and I don’t think my work would be quite that flexible.

What’s worse, I have no classes left to take that actually matter. They would have to be absolutely random, unrelated 300-level classes.

The thought of being in school for another two years is devastating, primarily because I just don’t think I can do it. I have been in school for so long, and I’ve been wanting to finish something for so long, that the thought of not finishing is heartbreaking. And yet, I can’t see myself putting my true desires on hold for another two years just to get a piece of paper that doesn’t matter.

I have three desires in my life.

  1. Be a father.
  2. Write.
  3. Serve God (which I think will involve learning about and teaching spiritual warfare).

Number 1 is waiting until April’s education is complete and we pay everything off–we can’t afford to have kids until then. I’ve put number 2 on hold for years because there was always something else to do first. And while I’m trying to do number 3 more, it’s hard when I have to work 9-10 hour days because of work+class and then do homework (reading and essays) in the evening.

What does getting a degree do to advance those priorities? After next semester, I will have already taken every class required to get a BA in Religious Studies, I just haven’t taken enough “upper division” classes. I won’t be furthering my education by taking another five classes, I’ll just be paying the University more money and time to give me a piece of paper that doesn’t go towards advancing my priorities.

I have been in school for twenty years at this point. And it has been inarguably valuable. But do I really need to do more?

I do not want to be defined by a college degree.I want to be defined by what I do with my life, and perhaps that’s where my desire for completion comes. I lack definition, and getting a degree would have given me something while also marking the transition to pursuing my passions. So I could spend another two years in college to get a degree that gives me a label, or I can actually do something. I could write the book of poetry I dreamed up in the shower this morning, and return to my scifi novel, and actually finish a fantasy fiction short story. I can start experimenting and learning how to live and write about it. I could take up photography.

In a sense, I don’t want the sense of accomplishment that comes from getting the BA, because I don’t feel it is justified. What does that piece of paper prove? That I stuck it out? That I delayed my life another 1.5 years?

How much longer do I have do walk on this treadmill?

I have been looking forward to the end of next semester for years. Looking forward to finally having time to write, to being more involved with the church, to starting attending a small group again, and to figuring out how to live.

What is there besides school? I’ve been in school since I was four years old–I have no experience outside of it–and I wonder what’s out there. What else could I be doing? What would life be like?

I could live, instead of just waiting to live.

I’m not doing anything. I go, I do enough to get the grade, and I wait for them to hand me a piece of paper. Is this what life is supposed to be?

I’m going to meet with my advisor tomorrow to see what she says, but I doubt there’s any way around this 40-hour rule. And if it comes to that, is there any point in pushing myself through another two years?

And for those who are inevitably going to post, “Get your degree! It’s so worth it!” please, tell me why. Why is it worth it? Note that I already have a secure, full time job paying a good amount more than average for Springfield, and I’ve already learned everything the degree is intended to confer. Note that a degree in religious studies has no direct application to anything I want to do. I don’t intend, nor do I foresee, going on to graduate level studies, and if I did enroll for a graduate degree then I think it would have to be as a full-time student, not someone trying to do it while working full time (and if that were the case, I could finish up my undergrad in a semester or two). Note the above priorities.

I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if I were really engaged with what I feel God is calling me to. I can’t see any reason to delay any longer.

What is happiness, peace, and fulfillment worth? Would a degree make me happy? Would I be happy if I let that goal go? I don’t know… I really don’t. Like I said, the thought of not finishing the degree–my thoughts going round and round for the last five hours–are stunning. It’s hard for me to accept the thought of not finishing. But the thought of going for another two years, for having been in college for nine years to get a degree to hang on the wall, and for no other purpose, is even harder to accept.

I’m going to brush my teeth and go to bed. God, be with me. Help this all make sense.

Can’t Burn My Bridges

Bridge

I had two dreams the other night with recurring themes. In the first, we were having a World Affairs Council reunion at our house. Except it wasn’t just WAC members, it was everyone who had impacted my life in the last seven years, crowded into and around our front yard, grilling burgers under the night sky and drinking punch beside a giant bonfire. It was a tense affair because the new WAC members felt threatened and intimidated by the old WACcers, afraid we’d come back and take over or something, while the alumni just reminisced about the good old days and how much fun we had.

The second dream was long and involved, but included a trip to my high school auditorium. While wandering up and down the rows of wooden seats, the backs of the chairs suddenly started to catch fire as if someone had smeared oil along the tops of them and tossed a match. I calmly bent down, blowing on the chairs to put the fire out, working my way along the aisles to make sure all the flames were put to rest.

If you ever do a Google search for the meaning of fire in dreams, you’ll probably find yourself as frustrated as I was because dream analysis is all a bunch of bologne. Apparently, fire can mean pretty much anything in a dream (surprised?), but there was a theme picked up by all the different articles. Though the writers observed that fire can be positive or negative, destructive or life-bringing, comforting or threatening, it was also often linked with destroying or cutting ties to one’s past. That, or an inability to do so.

I’ve had a reversal of fortunes in the last six years of college in regards to my memory. When I began college, I had very poor short-term memory, to the extent that I would often forget conversations while having them, couldn’t keep appointments, and had to write everything down to remember anything. I got lost because I couldn’t recall directions, and I had trouble with just about everything. But sometime during my freshman year, my memory drastically improved (which is a story for another time). Since then, it has continued improving, and now I remember pretty much everything. I haven’t gone to the complete opposite end of the spectrum (just like my memory was never completely non-existant), but I do remember more than most people I think.

I remember specific feelings, able to almost relive them, and I remember entire conversations, their twists and turns. I still can’t quote movies all that well, but that’s because I never try to remember movies. In general, I can now look back over the last decade and put just about everything together in my mind.

This means that I can’t let anything go, though, and while I’m much better at keeping myself from dwelling on sorrow and loss (having let it go emotionally, at least), I can’t forget any of those experiences.

But really, I don’t want to. I treasure the memories with fondness, and I am glad that I can look back and remember exactly what it was like to be somewhere or do something. It helps keep me from yearning for the past, or from putting it on a pedestal. My memory keeps me firmly grounded in reality.

No, I don’t want to burn those memories, or forget where I came from. But just because that bridge is there, that doesn’t mean I want to cross back over it either. I’m happy just to know it exists.