From a Third Year’s Diary: The Singularity of Today

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I have been going through today with a strange awareness of future nostalgia. That feeling when you can sense your future self walking beside you in memory, longing for what you have right now. It can feel a little unsettling, but it opens your eyes to the presentness of the present.

I have been going through today with a strange awareness of future nostalgia

Third year does that to you. I’ve been feeling this year through lenses of nostalgia since it began, that additional layer of the painful and ill-fitting awareness that it may be the last year I am doing what I’ve been doing since I got here as a nervous fresher in September 2016.

Today, singularly in the midst of many stressed, frustrated and maddening days I’ve spent battling my dissertation, my mind seems to have come up for breath, encountering a forgotten gratitude.

I am learning things. I can feel my brain expanding. (Good thing I’m not studying sciences, for I am not interested in scientific facts.) I am spending my days dividing parts of my mental activity between regions I realistically can never expect to be conquering again, especially simultaneously.

 I am spending my days dividing parts of my mental activity between regions I realistically can never expect to be conquering again

For when else, apart from now, in this very moment of my final year of my undergraduate degree, will I be reading Don DeLillo’s post-modern White Noise alongside Fielding’s 1742 Joseph Andrews, while wading through my 12,000 word examination of late 19th century novels by George Gissing, in the light of the work of 20th century German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno? When else will I be thinking about the commodification of information while walking home after an inspirational lecture (thank you, Dr. Grausam), be having long evening discussions with my housemate about our strikingly parallel dissertations, both differently situated on the cusp of modernity? When else will I be nervous about having shared two short stories I wrote with the rest of my creative writing class, whose comments I am to hear next Wednesday, while in the back of my mind thinking in strange echoes of Spanish, in anticipation of an approaching oral exam? At what other point in life will I spend breaks between lectures on a bridge in sight of Durham Cathedral, giving out student newspapers that I’ve helped put together while living through all this learning?

When else will I be thinking about the commodification of information while walking home after an inspirational lecture?

I walk about Durham listening to my audiobooks and Spanish songs, savouring the rolled r that sounds like home back in Cyprus, inwardly pronouncing words whose sound makes me happy (mirada, desaparezco, even aspiradora) while entering the student masses crowding the pavements on the way to the library.

I am grateful to be here, to be lucky enough to have my brain be filled with such strange and wonderful things.

I am stressed, I am homesick and I am tired. I know all that – I complain as much as the average person. But today, because today I feel like I can, I choose gratitude. I am grateful to be here, to be lucky enough to have my brain be filled with such strange and wonderful things. I love learning, I love being here, and the stress of it all doesn’t come anywhere near the fleck of inward light, late at night, when a concept finally clicks, when the right word comes to you, when, piece by piece of new knowledge, you become someone new.

 

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2 thoughts on “From a Third Year’s Diary: The Singularity of Today

  • This is so surreal.
    I am sitting in front of the TV, just watched England U20 v Italy U20, after beers and fish and chips.
    I am also looking at an unread copy of “White Noise” and thinking I need to read that at some stage. It’s on the carpet in front of me.
    Maybe I’ll start next week.
    It’s a difficult ask for a Grey Man (69-72), you do the maths.
    My wife (Trev’s) also 69-72, says “no chance”.

    To all Durham alumni and those soon to be alumni …enjoy what ever you are doing and I hope your memories of Durham are and will be has good as ours.

    Reply
  • Don’t worry, it’s just the hiraeth kicking in just a bit early: it happens to us all. And it’s even more powerful when you’re not a student anymore.

    Reply

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