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Monday, July 28, 2008

That's some BULLSHIT

Last day up at the cottage. We head down to Toronto in a couple hours, then I'm in Toronto for a few days. Back in Minni-snaps on Thursday night.

I'm totally bummed to be leaving (see: title). My uncle and aunt keep congratulating me on having survived so much time up here on my own (there was a full two weeks they weren't here, and I've been here for a month, total), but honestly, I don't feel like I've been that solitary. I've enjoyed the time alone, I've read a lot, written a lot (not as much as I wanted, but then, one never does...), swum and biked and cooked a lot (pictures forthcoming) and Taken Stock a lot, and the solitude never felt weird or oppressive. And thanks to high-speed internet and the occasional phone conversation, I've been in touch with a lot of friends and it feels like due the to the distance or all the free time I've had up here, the conversations I've had with people have been meaningful: we've actually emailed and talked About Stuff, and I've caught up with some people I've haven't talked to in a while. Plus the lack of social time has made me appreciate my friends and look forward to spending time with them. I feel like the time here has deepened my connections to people, not severed them. I've spent a lot of time with my uncle and aunt and realized that I need to spend more time with my Canadian family. I like to complain/boast about being an only child with no cousins, but the truth is, I _do_ have family, and I should take more advantage of it.

Gosh, though, apparently being up here has made me maudlin.

It's time to go back to the flatland, though. I'm reading The Magic Mountain, which is about this dude, Hans, who goes up to visit his cousin at a retreat for people with TB, up in the mountains. He get so seduced by the orderly, reflective way of life that he sort of psychosomatically gets TB, too. He becomes addicted to leisure--a not particularly intellectual guy in the past, he's exposed to all these thinkers, all these different ideas about society, life, death, disease, the whole process of Taking Stock, in other words. He gets so wrapped up in it he becomes unfit for actual life, down below.

So I don't want to end up like old Hans. I do believe in the importance of quiet, of Taking Stock, of reading (reading, as DFW points out, is like the least lonely thing you can do, in a way -- it's a really intimate connection with another person's mind), of reflecting, of taking time to synthesize. But you need some action in your life, too. You can get too seduced by passivity, because the rewards of passivity can be great. After all, you need a lot of quiet and leisure, you need to spend a lot of time by yourself, if you want to write. I guess it's about having the discipline not to get too wrapped up in your own head; to make sure what you do has a connection to the world.

Or something. What do I know, anyway?

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