Cornell students really study. The libraries are packed everyday. Even Sundays. At night! And it’s not just because it’s prelim (= midterm in UT lingo) season. And thing is, the libraries have been this way since the very first week of term!
Today I joined the ranks of library pigeons here at Cornell. That is, I parked my Torontonian butt down in a little nook amidst the Cornellian engineering students while Zibin was at class. One thing I must say: the engineering library in Cornell is super conducive for studying. People actually work! Vast contrast to the UT engineering library as I remembered it. Even the engineers didn’t study in it! (Rather, they throw paper planes at the ceiling :P)
For an hour during the day, Zibin was also studying at the library with me. It’s been years since we’ve studied together at the library, and this time around it’s very different. I had no trouble concentrating *laughs*.
All things considered, Zibin and I are both taking things easy when it comes to academic strife. Is that good or bad? Ha ha, well… I think it’s good in so far as we’re putting in effort to do a good job. It makes a psychological world of a difference though, when we’re not compulsively studying for an external reason… whether it is to prove ourselves or to achieve some imagined practical goal.
Academic excellence and ‘success in life’. Think again. What’s your definition of success? What do you need? Do you find yourself often in the midst of pursuing something, blinded by panic and stressed by the doubt that you’re not quite ‘making it’? You may be surprised at how many people feel that way… regardless of how well they’re doing.
Is it a dog-eat-dog world? Or is the world a big enough place for you to find your niche and discover your own definition of success in life? Are you a slave to money, basing major life choices on material well-being? Have you ever considered that maybe if you kept thinking that you need to feed your stomach first, that your stomach may never be satisfied and that in the meantime your soul will starve? And isn’t it interesting how it’s always people who aren’t ruled by the needs of their pocketbook that seem to have greater satisfaction in life even when they have less?
Why do we prize accomplishments so much for their own sakes? If we gain the whole world and lose our soul, we are nothing. What are we in such a frenzy for? Why do we get so obsessed over such unimportant things… other people’s opinions of us, our looks, our possessions, and a million and one things that we can do without?
Why is it that we always feel the need to be justified? Why are we so wilfully blind to our own failings while so eager to point out others’?
Musings on Parental Love
The unexamined life is not worth living. What have we left unexamined? Isn’t it painfully funny how each generation revisits the previous generations mistakes upon the next? What makes us think that we have the definitive answer as to how people should learn to live just because we’ve experienced life a certain way? I’ve often been amazed at that kind of parental arrogance.
In the first place, we all have issues… different issues due to different experiences. Why are we so eager to have our children develop the same issues we have? Perhaps we’re blind to our issues. That aside, what makes us think that our kids’ personalities and lives would be best formed by what we went through ourselves? Don’t we know that their world will be significantly different from ours in many ways? Hmmm…
Zibin and I actually discussed this at length on the drive over to Ithaca. And I know it’s much easier said than done… learning what it means to let my future children live their own lives, make their own choices… even ones I have trouble agreeing with. Bah. Zibin cautioned me that as parents we won’t be able to help feeling betrayed and hurt when our kids’ lives start revolving around more than us.
He said, “One day they may listen to their teacher rather than us. Their friends will become the center of their lives for a while…they will make choices we do not agree with…it will hurt, but if we love them more than we love ourselves, we will be able to get over our feelings and give them the space they need to grow.” It’s ironic, cos I went through all that while growing up myself… more than anyone I understand how important all that was in my own journey of self-discovery. Yet, I KNOW it won’t be easy for me to deal with when it’s my turn as the mother.
Wanting once told me that she thinks that when a parent feels wronged or taken for granted by his/her child and berates the child for it, that parent has placed his/her own needs above the love for the child (actually that was her reaction to my wonderment that my mother never berated me for hurting her and taking her for granted, which I know too well I do). I know two other wise people who have told me something similar. And yet, they all concede that most parents often still love themselves more than they love their children though they may not be aware of it. So often, what parents claim to do ‘for the child’s own good’ may be more a self-deception than anything. But what’s sad is that when we as parents self-deceive, we often end up enmeshing our children in our confusion as well.
Scary? Not quite as scary as the thought that I could well become such a parent… I am someone so often blind by how driven I am by my own needs that I could very well hurt the very people I try to love most. Really laying my life down for others is quite something else! Well, I’m learning… I’m trying! *hopeful smile*