and again, here i am

I haven't visited my blog in some time. Life has picked up a little bit since my trip to Portland, which was a great time, you know. It had all the signatures of the classic road trip: miles and miles of driving; meeting new friends; catching up with old ones; getting to know a new town; time alone for introspection and self-reflection; many good conversations; and the peculiar restlessness of leaving what you know and the people you love for something else, and then leaving that too, full of excitement and melancholy, and the constant awareness of small significance. Yes, it was a good trip. (But I didn't become friends with, or even meet, Rick McKinley or Don Miller - so it goes.)

And then, coming home, I wandered Winnipeg trying to get my wits about me again and settle into life here. There was about two weeks between coming home and starting school once more, and the time just slipped away. I did some reading and some writing and generally felt lost in the familiar.

I'm through my second week at University of Winnipeg now. The school year is rolling by as quickly as the summer. I decided not to work for my first semester because I'm enrolled in five courses, which is a real full load. To give you an idea, here's my five courses: Storied Lives (a third year Religious Studies course that focuses on the ways in which individuals situate the narrative of their lives within their religious tradition); Critical Theory (a fourth year English seminar course that has little to do with literature, focusing on theories of everyday life, which is basically all those little things that comprise a person's life and usually go unnoticed); Existentialism (a second year Philosophy course that looks at - *surprise* - existentialism, reading Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre); Philosophy and Social Reality (a third year seminar course on the way that society is "constructed" and the role of humanity); and Topics in Moral Philosophy (a fourth year seminar course on ethics and morality, dealing with questions like "What makes an action good?" and "What motivates good or moral action?"). So, needless to say, I'm pretty busy these days with all the reading and philosophizing.

Things on my mind these days:
Well, I'm wondering a little about purpose. The very heavy emphasis on philosophy at school has me reeling a little. I don't have a problem with philosophy and I think that I actually really enjoy it (or at least aspects of it). But the more papers I write and the more philosophy I read, the more I wonder why the hell I'm bothering with it anyway. My questions of purpose have less to do with "Why are we here?" and more to do with "What am I going to do with myself?" (which might be a bit of an existential dilemma...). I guess I'm wondering, thinking about the thousands of years of philosophy and systematic reasoning, how all this is going to resolve itself. I suppose God has a pretty good handle on these questions, but sometimes, even if you know you won't have a ready answer, the important thing is to ask the questions anyways.

More and more people I know seem to be settling into their lives, from starting careers to buying houses, having babies and finishing school. And I look out from my (admittedly) very limited perspective and I think, "Hm, well, this all seems to be going very much as unplanned." I know that I'm not ready for most of the usual things that make up an average life. I don't even think I would change much in my life, if given the chance to skip back the years and start over. I feel pretty good about where I am and what I'm doing. But I still feel like I'm stumbling along blindly and trying to feel my way forward.

So, here I am.

Finally, to finish this off, some Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.