August 29, 2014

The Real World & You. ~ Karen Cygnarowicz


While talking to a former professor of mine about the future and higher education, he said to me, “College is retaining information and graduate school is producing something.”

One without a degree nor an interest in furthering themselves in the educational system could ague that it’s all bullsh*t, and work and “the real world” are the production.

Lately I have been walking the tight rope across the two buildings, much like Philippe Petit did in 1974 when he suspended himself above New York City.

An old friend of mine once referred to my head as if it were “floating.” With these implications, it’s obvious that I need some grounding.

Lately, my meditations have turned negative, and my dreams frightening. I wake up in a cold sweat, and babble about the streaming images my mind produces. Sometimes I write them down and revisit them when I’m feeling uninspired.

I’ve heard it often in interviews with writers, “It came to me in a dream.” When I revisit these pieces of the past, I feel stuck. There’s something missing. The sentences are broken. I had written them in a frenzy in fear that time will erase the details, the connections. There’s too many verbs that my currently dormant self can’t keep up.

I sit in a chair with words like “running,” “chasing” and “jumping.” I think a dream dictionary will have all the answers to my subconscious and days or weeks later when I’m revisiting what some people call bullsh*t also, I am let down once I remember the lack of productivity in doing so.

I’m chasing a dream that is stuck on fast-forward in a body that is still. It’s like stepping off a treadmill after 20 minutes, and I lunge forward into reality without remembering how to walk.

What my former professor forgot to recall, and share with me, was the time in between college and graduate school, or in between anything really. In talking to my friends who have “been there,” they summarize it into adjectives that just don’t feel whole, like they were never there at all.

In talking to my friends who share this transition with me, there is a silence between their words that is deafening, and the feelings subside for the moment they are there.

But when I am alone, pulling my subconscious off my nightstand, I am reminded that there is nothing missing. I have been given all of the information. In the last 20 years of my life, the information has been handed to me on paper, in a textbook, on a worksheet. Lately, I have been giving myself the information if I make the time in the morning when I wake up. It’s what I do, what I produce with this information, that will allow me to become, to reach the other side, or whatever other clichés millions of other people have made up when they have “been there.”

The spirit in me begs the question, is this “doing” the “becoming” that you desire? And I wonder, because it feels like I have never done anything before. There is an emphasis of action in our Western society that pulls me apart at the touch of a button. I receive a text message that reads, “Are you coming?” and before I can respond, I’m already going somewhere else, while thinking about another place entirely. Cell phone companies could write Vertical Thinking for Dummies if they wanted to. So could monthly planners, movie trailers and billboards. We see something, we want it (whether authentically, or by convincing advertisement) and we go get it. We just do it.

And I’m left sitting in a chair thinking about what I can do, what I can produce, what I can become, without remembering who I am. Who I really am—my subconscious, the nightmares, the disconnected and fragmented meditations that keep me suspended in my floating head.

I cannot emphasize how important patience is in this transition, in a transition. I’ve heard it before, from the friends who have “been there,” and when I hear it, it’s just a word. Another word to consult another dictionary. But when I sit here, thinking about who I really am, it’s loud, it’s silence, it’s deafening. It reminds me of time, and no one wants to be reminded of time.


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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own

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