Aspiration and respiration

flickr laurenissuperman

“The word ‘aspiration’ has a breathing sense to it. …We have to breathe and to find reasons to stay alive on our own terms.”

— Lidia Yuknavitch


Endless things and growing pains

Designing lesson plans. Learning a language. Researching post-grad jobs. Applying for jobs. These are some of the things consuming my thoughts and energy lately, and they are often satisfying and fulfilling. Working together with friends and mentors to make drastic improvements in my résumé; discovering the best way to motivate my students; improving my comprehension skills and broadening my vocabulary in a foreign language; bringing up my GPA; planning on how to pay off loans; these are worthy things.

But these things are also endless. How can I be sure that the poems I picked for my lesson on descriptive words are the best, most developmentally appropriate poems for the lesson? How can I be sure that I have used the right participial form in the third paragraph of my Turkish composition? How do I know if I have done enough to be impressive to an employer? How do I know when I have succeeded–and therefore when I can stop trying–especially when there are so many ways to be wrong or mediocre?

It’s not just languages and teaching and job applications that seem endless–everything in life is endless. The degree of success in what we choose to do in life is only limited by the bounds of a lifetime. Sometimes I just feel paralyzed with deciding the right thing to do and exhausted with what seems like a race to success that has no end-goal. Why bother? Why try?

But most of the time I do not feel this way. Most of the time, I know that I set my own goals, that I should seek to embrace failure, and that my own success is in my own hands. And this is the truth. Everything else is just growing pains.

How do you set goals and measure success? Perhaps more importantly, how do you inspire yourself to stay motivated through doubts, boredom, pointless self-pity, and other growing pains?

Photo by: Me

Sounding the depths of our being

For it is not only indolence that causes human relationships to be repeated from case to case with such unspeakable monotony and boredom; it is timidity before any new, inconceivable experience, which we don’t think we can deal with. But only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (1929)

Blog is on an (at least) 10 day hiatus while I am vacationing in Turkey. İyi yolculuklar (Happy travels).

Photo is from the New York Times “Why We Travel” 2010 gallery.