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An Experiment In Honesty

This last week has been emotionally unsettling, and since I've been unoccupied all day (I'm at my dad's place until I leave for San Francisco), I'm feeling it in a strong sort of way. To sort it all out, I thought the best thing to do would be to start writing about it, so here it goes.

This summer has been very influential in my development - I suspect more influential than I can really understand at present. I had to leave many new-found friends and watch as friends left me. The people at Yellowstone helped me to see what I want socially. There were few Christians (besides the anomalous Campus Crusaders) who were more than nominally religious (and I mean religious in the way that we see American Evangelicals or Catholics - there were many 'mystics'). I could talk honestly about questions of death or a god without fearing that evangelical backlash I'd get at Sterling College or The Master's College. In fact, I just enjoyed being able to hang out with and fit in with a group that doesn't take Christianity seriously. They just like having fun - camping, drinking, telling stories, or whatever. Convention broke down - not a lot, but relative to Sterling.. yes, a lot. Talking with Bill about reincarnation or his views on sex, love, and marriage; getting buzzed with Wilbur and reading Robert Frost poems to anyone unlucky enough to be in the hallway; telling nerdy literary jokes right alongside "Your Mom" jokes; having a casual dating relationship without fearing commitment; the list goes on. Janne told me that he thought working at Yellowstone was difficult because we have to see so many good people leave. "But you know," he told me, "sometimes you need to feel that kind of pain to escape from monotony in life. It's a good reminder of what it is to be human, to have strong emotions."

What Janne said was important. I had to leave Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago and I'm thinking about my return to SC. In fact, I've already experienced some of it again while moving in and registering -- the narrow-mindedness, the convention -- and I'm dreading it. I'm fearing that Sterling College might have an impact on me, that it might cement conventionality into my character. I fear the total lack of diversity - racially and intellectually. I fear having to alter my character to fit in to the evangelical crowd. And because of these fears, I'm applying to other colleges this semester, so by Spring semester I might be out of The System. Yeah, it's capitalized.

I think that I'm also scared of losing friends. There are few genuine friends - I really believe that. Most friendships are superficial. They are based around some shared interest or common ideology, or because both people have the hots for each other and want to screw around. Sometimes people are friends because it's socially convenient - they hang around the same crowd.

There are some people that I am attached to, more than superficially. And I'm scared, honestly. I'm scared that unless I stay close, the friendship will disappear. I'm glad to go through this, because it reminds me of my own humanity, but I also don't like to see good things come to an end. But all good things come to an end.

Why am I attached to certain people? I don't know yet; I haven't quite pinned it. But I respect people who are culturally aware. I respect people with opinions. I also respect people who can take my honesty, who can have a real discussion, who entertain my crazy notions, who respect me for having opinions. Damn it, I just have fun with some people, and maybe I'm scared of losing those moments. I don't know precisely, but it really shakes me up sometimes.

I also know that the human spirit is resilient and finds ways to cope with loss and change. For now, I guess, I'm just meant to feel all too human.

One of my friends (a dear, genuine friend) is keen on reminding me not to have any regrets in my life, and I'll be damned if I do. I plan on living life passionately, experiencing all of the emotions that make me human, and in the process I hope to love passionately. And my wish - or perhaps my human need - is to be loved in return. Maybe that's why I fear being away from certain people. Maybe I just fear I'll miss their love.

Well there is some brute honesty.

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