5.19.2006

Pruning

I won't be taking the Republic Meta-Torrey next fall. It's a strange feeling. I've wanted so desperately to take that class for the last five years or so, and for the first time, it finally fits beautifully into my schedule. It's on one of Andy's days off and everything... it's just perfect.

But I've decided to sign up for the regular Junior Fall class instead. They haven't posted the readings yet, so I'm not even sure what I'll be studying. I'm pretty sure it's the Russians, but they've been shuffling things up so much, I don't really know exactly. Anyway, it's not some consuming passion, some particular topic that I desire even more than Plato, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just Junior Fall, the ordinary, year after year upper-division course that happens to mesh with my schedule. It meshes with my schedule almost as well as the Republic class.

When I was a Freshman, the Republic turned my world inside-out and upside-down. The universe opened up as something more real and more beautiful than I'd ever imagined.

When I was a Sophomore, a group of twelve blessed, blessed upperclassmen studied Plato all semester long. I burned with desire to join them, but I was a lowly Sophomore.

When I was a Junior, all the groups were splitting up, going in different directions, and we, the people of Rossetti, wanted to stick together. So we proposed a class on Augustine's Confessions, and in that way we stayed together one semester more. I wanted to take the Republic, but I wanted to stay with Rossetti more.

That Spring it became futile to try to stay together anymore, so I could have taken the Republic... except that Dr. Reynolds was teaching a class on the philosophy of science. And that was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. The topic had nothing to do with my particular interests, except in so far as clarity on that issue is essential to anyone who wishes to be a thinking person in a science-driven world. Whether or not I was particularly passionate about the topic, I needed to understand these things, and Dr. Reynolds is right up there at the forefront of this area.

And then I had babies, and the next chance I had to take a class, they were offering philosophy of music, which is exactly my thing...

But now, finally, I could take the Republic... and I'm not going to.

Not that I wouldn't love to. But it's not really what I need right now. I guess I've already done the Plato thing, and it's time to move on.

Not that I know all there is to know about Plato, just that I probably know all the Plato I need to know right now. My academic place in the Kingdom is not as a Plato scholar. I am to be a composer and a philosopher of music. And Plato really does have a place in all that. It was the Republic, after all, that convinced me that philosophy of music is of earth-shattering importance, closely intertwined with the rise and fall of nations and souls.

I know I'll be coming back to the Republic, but right now, what I need is a solid broad foundation, and some good hard-core analytic philosophy.

The Republic would be good, so good, and it hurts not to take it. But there's only so much I can do, and I know I need to sacrifice the good for the better.

And I'm reminded of a quotation Jessica brought up in a recent online discussion.


"To live is to choose, and to choose is to deny oneself. The person who wants to
do too many things in life, or cultivates innumerable interests and hobbies, is
dispersed, and will not be outstanding in anything.
"One must have the
courage to make choices, to put some secondary interests to one side to
concentrate on the primary. To prune!"
— Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

3 comments:

JMS said...

God bless you, Elena. Your choice doesn't sound like an easy one to make, but the way you are approaching it shows that you have a Gold Soul indeed. Thanks for your example!

Rachel said...

Well said, Elena. This was especially helpful as I wrestle with whether or not to attend the upcoming two-week Theaetetus metaton with Dr. Geier. Normally I'd be there without a second thought, but I don't know how well it will work with baby in tow. :-/

Elena said...

You know, it all depends on how the nursing business goes... but once you and Lucy-Light get into the swing of things, it might not be such a problem. I found that when mine were small, they really only had one thing on their little minds--it was very easy to keep them quiet!

When they get a little bit older on the other hand... then the drive to explore kicks in, and any grownup stuff like that is all over with.