A Note on Wikipedia’s 15th Birthday


I wasn’t prepared for Wikipedia’s 15th birthday (today) and I have homework to do, so this won’t be long. But here’s what I want you to know about Wikipedia.

Wikipedia shaped my teen years. I joined the site in 2009 and logged 10,000 edits in 3 years. I created over 9000 pages. I met countless people, read about numerous subjects, and contributed a little bit to global knowledge. I learned a lot about proofreading, formatting in html, and citing sources. Wikipedia changed how I think about Continue reading

Quotes from my Notes

Quote


img-rivers-mountainriver-russiaI tend to collect quotes in random places (especially a massive collection of notes on my desktop), so I’m going to start sharing those quotes with you all. Feel free to discuss and share quotes of your own! Enjoy.

If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform. –Thich Nhat Hanh

In defense of the liberal arts


I attend a liberal arts university. In addition to the English classes for my major, I am required to attend history, Bible, communications, philosophy, science, arts (music, art, or theater), and math/computer science classes. Sometimes my friends, here or at other liberal arts schools, complain about taking so many classes unrelated to their majors. While I could write a long defense of liberal arts, it would be boring and probably redundant for most of you. Instead, I would like to share a story that illustrates some of my favorite aspects of a liberal arts education.

This semester I am taking (in addition to other things) a philosophy class exploring major patterns in Western thought and a British Literature survey class. These two classes meet on the same day, separated by four hours. One morning last week, we studied Seneca in my philosophy class. Specifically, we read a selection from “On Happiness” and discussed his belief that happiness only accompanies virtue. 4 hours later, I was listening to a lecture on Alexander Pope (totally fascinating, but that’s a different story!). My teacher mentioned some of his writings that we didn’t read and told us that he believed virtue was happiness. In a terrific “ah-ha!” moment, I made the connection: Pope is a neoclassic, almost certainly well-studied in the Greek and Roman writers – if not Seneca, then others like him.  When I mentioned the connection, half the class nodded along with me, because they too are taking that philosophy class. Instead of simply knowing that the neoclassics studied the classic writers and allude to and copy them, we got to see it in action.

This is why I love liberal arts. Instead of classes being isolated, individual subjects, they all weave and connect – exactly like real life. In real life, our english is not separate from history, arts from science, philosophy from communication. They all come together to give us a more complete picture of the world. Why would anyone ever resign themselves to one tiny thread when they can view the whole tapestry?

An anecdotal birthday present


My father’s birthday was this week. I missed it, because I’m at college. If I were home, I would have given him a hug. I’m not a daddy’s girl, but I do miss those sometimes. But since I am here, I am going to write instead.

I never considered my parents to have much to do with my reading, particularly my taste in books. Looking back now, obviously I see a lot more of it, but it is true that for the most part, I chose a lot of the things I read. However, in the last year or two, I have realized that my dad affected my taste in reading quite a bit. As a kid, one of the only things I knew how to talk about was books. So I was constantly talking about what I was reading, and then regularly pestering my parents for any suggestions of books to read. On one such occasion, my dad suggested Lloyd Alexander’s books. I took his suggestion, and as my title evidences, they became favorites of mine. I have read everything of Alexander’s that I can get my hands on (well over half his writings) and loved every moment. Somewhere in the train of my adolescent history, I forgot that my dad lit that spark. When I remembered, it became something precious, a point of connection that we seldom make, and certainly never vocalize.

My father also started me on sci-fi. He suggested Fahrenheit 451 and Isaac Asimov. I read and loved both. From there, I continued to read science fiction. He also suggested Brave New World, which I still remember and will still read at some point.

If you asked me today what my favorite genre was, my answer would likely be either fantasy, or fantasy/sci-fi, since sometimes they blend together inseparably in my mind. In either case, I have to acknowledge that my father probably started me on the path to loving both genres. That is something for which I am unspeakably grateful – small moments that have shaped me in innumerable ways.

Chances are, he doesn’t even realize the impact his book suggestions had on me. He may not even remember suggesting them. But I do. For that, I thank him very much.

Professional Student


Is it too soon to say that I might love college? Don’t get me wrong, people. I’m not crazy. I have no affection for getting up early, having tons of projects due, or living in a dorm. But I do love learning. About anything and everything. College has been an amazing way to do exactly that. Over Christmas break, as I prepared for my new classes, I found myself enthralled with the idea of being able to learn so much.

But there’s a problem. I’m an English major. I love literature and words and writing, so I think this is a good fit for me. But that major doesn’t allow for dabbling in piano, psychology, business, speech, theater, journalism, cello, and whatever else happens to pop into my head. My (brilliant) brother-in-law thinks I should be a humanities major (he’s a little biased), but I love English, so I have no intent to switch.

The best solution I’ve been able to come up with is dabbling in what I find important right now, and saving the rest for later. I can always take classes outside of my college degree, or I can put my reading and researching skills to use and learn on my own. Being a professional student doesn’t seem like it will work out as a career plan (unfortunately), but I intend to learn as much as possible every day for the rest of my life.

Musing’s End


In between celebrations, Christmas is a good time for reflection….considering the past year, appreciating family and friends, and planning for the next year. For me, it seems like this is especially important this year. Many, many things have changed in my life over the last year. Starting college is the most obvious, but it has been a year of huge growth for me in other ways. All of these changes leave me with a lot to sort out. A few things stand out from all of this mental/emotional sorting.

1. I am very, very blessed. There are things about my life I don’t like, but in the big scheme, I have a very good life. I’m in school, doing well, paying for it from my jobs, fully supported by my family. My friends are amazing, always there for me. I have a spectacular boyfriend who came out of the blue and brings unbelievable amounts of joy to my life. I am in possibly the best period of my life right now, with nothing to really complain about. It’s important for me to remember that in the midst of the “growing pains” all of these changes bring.

2. I like being challenged. Christmas break is great, and I definitely needed the rest, but I find myself antsy, unsure of what to do. It’s hard to fathom, this freedom, after having to do homework practically every night for the last few months. I’m working 40 hours a week, but still feel slightly lost in the evenings.

3. I like learning. I never particularly liked school until college. Tying right in with the challenge point, I like being challenged to learn something. I could turn into a professional student very easily. I have to remember that when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to get out of bed or off, say, Pinterest. I know that learning is good for me, I just have to get off the couch and do it.

4. I still have a lot of uncertainty. Making decisions about issues in my life has only opened more questions about other issues. There are still many issues that I just haven’t decided. This sometimes frustrates me…in a way it makes me feel like an immature or weaker person. Which is probably an unwarranted feeling, but there regardless.

5. I was well-prepared for life. My parents and youth pastor repeated these mantras constantly about life. Do this, don’t do this, etc. Now that I’m on my own, I find myself realizing how true all of these teachings are. In a way, it makes me feel like such a typical child. At the same time, I am extremely grateful for such good raising.

Looking past all the annoyances and uncertainties, I am so happy with my life. I don’t take the time to acknowledge that often enough. This Christmas, think about what is wonderful about your life. Yes, your relatives may drive you insane. You may have had any number of disasters. You may have even had recent tragedies in your life. In that case, my heart goes out to you. But in general, I encourage you to be happy with life. It is magical and good. 🙂