Sunday, January 29, 2006

A bad week for staying on task

Well, that was the most godawful seven days of studying I have put in at Utah State, bar none. Sarah has been trying to keep me keeping it together. But it has been truly terrible. I don't know why exactly. I think Sarah and I are both trying to adjust to me being home all day and available for X and Y and Z.

I have an uninhabited office on campus that is basically mine to run around with, so I might start working up there some days.

I am also thinking of going back to exercise. Most of my old friends would put me to shame in personal health, I'm afraid. So this has been a bit of a phase. A four-plus year weight gain. I think I said recently that the physical affects the spiritual and the mental and emotional; maybe my lack of having to walk several blocks to my car every day has been wearing on me for the last few weeks. It was bitterly cold all the way to my parking spot, but I reaped the benefits last semester in inches and pounds.

As a Christian, I'm not obsessed with body image. I have more important things to be obsessed about, like social image and looking competent for my professors. I get sick of this and just want to be myself, but I don't know what the professional distance is with my mentors, my colleagues.

I had very strange problems with social image in Undergraduate v1.0, where I would miss a class or an assignment, and then I would cut class until the drop date, then drop. Or just not drop and fail. Or, in one of my many classroom horror experiences, fail to drop, and have to go take the final, and fail the final. As near as I can put it, I was extremely anxious about looking like a bad student, or like a failure. I had my priorities out of whack too, so I would miss one class because I stayed up too late playing Tekken 3 or whatnot, and then for the next class all my sensors would overload. If I'd been more honest about the whole thing, I would've run around the dormitory screaming and waving my arms around. That's how I felt about it every time: naked fear. My jaw is clenching right now just remembering it.

This lasted for the better part of four years. I didn't get over it until I started up at USU, after several months of the real world to knock some sense into me (including a stint as a production worker at a Camelbak-type waterbag factory).

But it still comes back sometimes, especially when I'm talking to professors. I stutter and have it all worked out in my mind ahead of time, like notes. I'm a nice guy, but I can't loosen up. I don't even know how to try; I have fun and I enjoy most everything that I'm learning. Maybe I desperately need to go to a department picnic or something.

I feel a bit better for having said all that.

Meanwhile, I'll be taking Tolkien on tape to the exercise machines, for a long overdue healthening. Like I said, I'm not obsessed with body image. But there are reasons to consider healthening to be the Christian thing to do. Jesus said once that "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." I have been mulling this over for a while and I'm starting to think it's a pretty deep statement. But anyway, by analogy, out of the overflow of my self-concept, or my character, my body is shaped. And right now my self-concept looks pretty flabby and lazy, and forgotten. Also, and perhaps more to the point, "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." This is an interesting little proof, and I will be exploring it in detail at the gym.

Good healthening to all of you too.

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