When I returned to college, finally for me and not for anyone else’s idea of me, I was happier than I thought possible. Before me stretched two years of learning, classes to choose from that made my imagination swell, and the idea that anything was possible with the right professor, the perfect pen, and hours and hours of Google.
For the first time my major was fixed and I was content. Since high school (some 18+ years ago) I’d floundered between majors and minors for fear if I settled I’d miss something. Something spectacular. Art history always fascinated me but why did I have to settle on one period? Anthropology was delicious and I gravitated towards folklore and ethnographic research. My degree is in creative writing, though, not history or anthropology. Writing, however, gives me an excuse to research all these lovely subjects. “A work in progress” I explain; working title only.
Strangely enough, I found my haven in the two hardest courses of my entire college career. The content wasn’t hard, just the means to an “A”. Part one and part two of a required liberal education course drove me to madness and the heights of wonder. And it wasn’t a writing or even a literature course.
It was the Humanities.
Go ahead. Groan. I’ll wait for the eye rolling to stop. I know people who hated their humanities courses and, from what they've told me, I blame their teachers. I also know people who have no clue as to what “humanities” even are. The best way I can describe the study is this: The Humanities are the study of the human creative condition.”
For me it was one big research fest! One day we were studying the Venus of Willendorf and the next we were focused on Sumerian statuettes. The next week we were roaming through the pyramids, followed by a clandestine meeting with Zeus. I read excerpts of classics I didn't know existed. I viewed art work that made me reconsider oil painting and I listened to musical pieces that brought tears to my eyes. Science and math married art and literature. I was a member of an exclusive Parisian salon just prior to the Revolution. I hung out with the Bloomsbury Group and sipped coffee in cafes eavesdropping on conversations by the Lost Generation.
I’m a scanner, a lifelong learner. College was an exercise in self-control. If money was no object, I’d still be at university, gathering courses like children gather dandelions. I’d string them together and wear them instead of diamonds. My handbag would be filled with tattered copies of course catalogs and instead of hair pins I’d keep my bangs in check with book marks.
So that’s why I’m still sitting in my writing room, staring at the bookshelves wondering what to write. I know once I choose I’ll bury myself for weeks and scurry off down rabbit holes with no ends in sight. It’s really not such a bad thing, unless, of course, your main goal in life is to type “The End”.