Monday, May 2, 2011

what deserves applause?

Yesterday a friend stopped buy, and our chat (which rambled around and about) somehow arrived at a comment he made stating that graduating college was a sign that one has learned discipline, and deserved respect based on that.

For me, that did not ring true at all.

College (all three degrees of it), was easy. Well, relatively speaking. Sure there were long sleepless nights of the drama of finishing a term paper, etc., but it was such an enormous buffet of courses (Ha! Like that metaphor?) during which I had only to be fed the opportunity to learn things that expanded my mind and made life more interesting.

Not including the (I'm sort of ashamed to admit) fact that I didn't have to surrender to the "real world" of boredom and hopelessness. Which, after graduating from my first degree is what I experienced in my first (and only!) "real job".

I never felt that I deserved applause or congratulations for college. It was relatively easy for me. Fun, interesting, exciting. Full of hope and plans to make a difference.

What I feel worthy of applause & recognition is when I do things, most often really little things that would be of no consequence to most people but are very difficult for me. Simple things that feel to me like I am slaying dragons... that the dragons are about to slay me.

I dealt with some old tax issues last week.

THAT was enormous!

I had cold sweats, anxiety, sleepless nights.

And I did it.

I did it.

I slayed that dragon.

THAT'S the kind of thing I feel I deserve applause for.

The hard stuff for one person is often, perhaps mostly, very small for many others.

It's the little things.

We fight our little battles inside ourselves but in reality they are the big ones.

Hooray for us!


  1. A caveat. "Easy" is relative and college requires certain mental skills and subjectiveness not translatable in the so-called real world. Study and experience gathering are necessary parts of a student's life.

    A computer can compute taxes but a student can create art or argue hypotheticals and be free of dangerous consequences. Everything after college becomes more of a life and death situation.

    I agree, making and doing is personally rewarding. Still, if it hadn't been for years of study I wouldn't had gained a bag of intangibles allowing me to do what I do and be what I am.

  2. Bill:
    I am grateful for the years I had in school, it certainly did teach me a lot about "learning to learn" and the content taught me a lot about how much more deeply one can see things (minerology and geomorphology as seemingly opposite poles in geology classes comes to mind). I didn't mean that the fact that college was "easy" for me meant it was not valuable, but rather that things many people take as "easy" are for me very, very difficult. And vice versa. And those are the dragons that, (once I actually gird my loins and gather the courage to face them), are by comparison SOOOOO much harder than the most difficult college class. Because they ARE (as you wrote) life and death. Safe or homeless. And... particularly triggering of panic for me.
    I'm so glad you are reading, and responding with such thoughtfulness.

  3. Everyone of us has their own little and big dragons, so you're both right from your perspectives. Fighting a dragon because he threatens your existence is a thing you can't avoid doing, and I guess there are, well maybe not a hundred, but several ways to do that -- and only some of them may deserve some "applause" because you didn't have a choice anyway; you are being forced by conditions. Fighting a dragon that threatens the existence of others who are helpless or dependent is a totally different thing and a voluntary one that will always deserve applause. Overcoming/fighting yourself and all the little excuses that keep popping up to distract you from focusing on what's being needed maybe the worst dragon of all. And that's what you mean -- and it's a different one for everyone that shows up in all sorts of different disguises.