Friday, December 05, 2003

It is dead week up here at Stanford, which at other schools (so we are told) means "the week where there are no classes so students can study." At Stanford, it means "the week in which there are classes but you still have to study." I think what sustains most people through this week is the thought that soon, for better or worse, it will all be over. I'm certainly looking forward to going home: to seeing my sister and the DM after their Italian sojourns, to telling those who haven't heard about Esther Selene (I wrote a rather lengthy e-mail on the subject, then pressed some arcane combination of keys which deleted both the e-mail and the draft, which was so depressing that I couldn't bring myself to write another one), to finally resuming Phoenix Earth, to Christmas with the family. This will be the first Christmas break since coming to Stanford which doesn't start with a Testimony tour, so hopefully it will include lots of good roleplaying. To a certain extent I realize that I'm holding on to outmoded conceptions of the place of roleplaying in my life - but it is still something I love in a universe which I love, with people whom I love, and I am looking forward to presenting my characters with moral problems. And of course there is Disneyland, which truly is the most magical place I know. More magical, on a per-area basis, even than Maui or Disneyworld.

My dead week has not been bad at all (I mean, seriously, I can't complain) but it has had its own stresses (e.g., my early short story final and tomorrow's LSAT), and that is distressing in its own way. Lack of sleep and scholastic stress are enough to push a body over the edge into old patterns and out of modes of living fitting for Christians. As a Stanford Christian, I wonder about this a lot: how much do we work against ourselves by punishing our minds and bodies? I mean, to be sure, a certain amount of stress must simply be lived with. But on the other hand, how much do we stray from holiness because our wills are tired from lack of sleep and our emotions are frayed from stressing about school unnecessarily?

I don't mean to blow this out of proportion, of course - it is not our lifestyles which are credited to us as righteousness, but our pistis - our faith, or trust. Nevertheless the desire to live becomingly is there; it's even more organic than that - hoitines apethanomen tê hamartia, pôs eti zêsomen en autê? And when it comes to what I do, there is still that preposterous truth, that all really depends on what I do. But I am still an animal; the state of my will is not insensible to the state of my body. It is like Max Payne says: you look back and see the choices you didn't know you'd made. Procrastinating for an hour now might be harmless. But it might mean (and all too often does) losing that extra hour of sleep, which leads to that extra iota of stress. And then when the time comes to stand on the battlefield of moral decision you are fighting with a stressed-out, sleep-deprived will ... and what kind of weapon is that?

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