Setting things straight, part 1: The end of summer

I have one week left. Monday next week, I start reporting for work.

The past summer has been an odd mixture of rest, recuperation, rebuilding (my word for studying and learning) and reflection. I also got to reconnect with some old friends, and that too has led to certain realizations.

In terms of rest and recuperation, I really hit the gym hard this summer especially in the past three weeks. I think I overdid it though since right now I am constantly tired. I didn’t lose much weight but I got trimmer around some edges. It’s only a start since come the school year, I work out regularly in the morning before I go to work.

I also caught up with a lot of lazy things, such as TV shows and comics. Catching up with LOST has been one of the best things I’ve done since it is really a fantastic show. It is the finale I’m looking forward to the most, trumping even Heroes and Jericho.

In terms of rebuilding, our family hasn’t traveled as we often do, so that limited my new learnings to all the books I’ve read in the past two months. I opened up so many books but finished only a handful. There were several subjects I looked into but none that really ate up my time.

Atheism was an interesting topic, though studying it revealed some flaws — and I only read the works of atheists. I read a book designed to convert one to atheism, but it only deepened my current faith. I found Richard Dawkins’ religion of Darwinism simply annoying, and hopefully Sam Harris paints a more respectable picture when I get to read him in the future. At least Harris has a more pragmatic view of religion, and I tend to listen to the pragmatists.

Related to religion, I studied a more macro-level view of how civilizations start and stop. Jared Diamond is an interesting read, and I’ll be borrowing a lot of his ideas for my first lessons on civilization. I didn’t study much about globalization and the flat world, although I started up on Wikinomics, another of this summer’s best reads.

The best book I’ve read this summer still has to be Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope. It is one I can reread again and again since it bears a message we must read and listen to. The irony is that we’re not that politically literate yet to do so but if the recent elections is any sign, we’re on our way there. While May 14 hasn’t completely captured my imagination, all I can say is that I’m excited to see what this means for our political culture in the coming years. 2010 will be telling.

And lastly, this has also been a summer of reflection. At one point last school year, I suffered what I would call a ‘social crisis’ where I was too cooped up with my work — and trying to make it work — that I missed out on too many friends. It was a horrible feeling, and one I wouldn’t want to get myself into again. (“Social crisis”: You work hard to succeed in whatever it is you do only to realize how alone you are. Then things go even more wrong as you realize that you aren’t as successful as you worked hard for.)

Fortunately, I got to reconnect with a lot of my friends this summer. I am rooting for my law school friends on their last year. Two decades of being a student is a very long time! The world is waiting for them, and I believe they’re hungry to be a part of it. As for my friends already carving their niche in the world, the best of luck to all of us. Continue on the great work; we’re only getting started.

Through my encounters with my friends, I’ve also realized how career-centered I am right now. They made me realize how much I was missing as I busied myself doing the work I love. There is this part of me who wants to enter into a relationship, but I just can’t get myself to do so. I’d love to date, but I also see it a waste of time. I rather work hard now and open myself to commitment when I am at a place in my life where I can give more than just my love. I’m just being realistic here.

This won’t change anytime soon, as you will see in part 2. I am not closing myself off from life’s surprises however, and I have this creeping feeling that I am about to eat my words. And that’s okay. I am rather hungry.

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