Saturday, October 10, 2009
Sometimes it takes a visitor for you to realize what a new place has taught you.
This weekend, Greg came to visit. We pretty much did the same things I'd normally do anyway, except that the homework bits were replaced by the two of us chatting. As we took a leisurely drive around the lake this morning, Greg commented that, "It's so weird not to be doing fifty things at once." And I realized: I've become used to that, to whatever is the opposite of multitasking (unitasking?). But let me back up.
For meals here on campus, they only serve at certain times, and for only so long. So the whole campus eats lunch at 12, for instance. Because of this, it's standard procedure (and only polite) to remain at your table until everyone who's seated there - including those who arrived as you were finishing your food - has finished both eating and talking. If you have a particular reason why you need to go, that's not held against you, but the primary time of socialization here is over meals, so you just budget an hour for lunch and chat with who you sit with.
Even the campus itself invites you to slow down. The speed limit here is 25, but every time I glance at my speedometer, I'm barely hitting 15. There's just this serene feeling of being in nature (on nature's turf, if you will), such that you want to slow your car down to be as inconspicuous as possible. The focus is not on where you're going to end up but on the journey, on the beauty you're in the midst of as you go.
Too, there aren't a million social activities here like there are at undergraduate colleges. This place is just a grad school and a seminary, nothing else. So while there are things to do and people to see... let's just say I don't think I've had so few extracurricular activities in my schedule since middle school. Not to suggest that I'm not doing anything - I work, and I go to class, and I catch up with friends via the phone, and I do research, and I pray, and I eat, and I sleep - but only that I spend larger chunks of time doing fewer things.
I suppose I'm learning about small town life, in a way. Not to suggest that ours is a self-contained community, but that it is small, intimate, and slower-paced. And I've always had a hard time with not-fast-paced. I do, I suppose, expect that others who come to visit are looking for something to do, which we don't really have.
You don't come here to do; you come here to be. It's a distinction I often forget. Hopefully two years here will enable me to internalize this enough that I can live it even in the midst of Big City life.
Posted by Claire Christina at 3:57 PM