Thursday, March 19, 2009

When I Was No More Than a Child.

Perhaps I'm a wee bit obsessive-compulsive. Or maybe it's more proper to say that at least one of my multiple personalities is. I think that is one of the great joys of keeping the parts of myself ambivalently integrated. I can indulge the little idiosyncrasies that are aching to find their expression. If I repress them, they are going to show their faces anyway. So I might as well allow them conscious revelation, so to speak. That way I don't get anxious about their appearance. They don't blindside me. But I'm getting off on a tangent, and I know that I have something specific to talk about today. For those of you looking for a point, I want to assure you that there is one. Just be patient, and happy that I enjoy a bit of symmetry in my structure.

Not too long ago, my good friend R. and I were hanging out and talking in a nonlinear fashion and he made an interesting offhand(?) comment pertaining to whatever the momentary subject was and it resonated in waves like the proverbial butterfly wings. He said that there really wasn't much difference between a training in art and one in psychology. I found that particularly insightful and specifically relevant to my life. When I was an undergraduate in college, I ended up being a psychology major around the time I was starting junior year. I had one of those epiphanies that seen to quite commonly occur in youth. I realized that I didn't know what the fuck I was going to do upon graduation.

You see, when I left my hometown and my family I came as far away as I dared... all the way across this great commonwealth. My parents had told me that I could attend any in-state school with public funding, and when I looked at the map... the University of Pittsburgh really stood out. So we planned a visit- my first to this fine city. It was one of those gray days that seems to shadow the region's reputation... especially among those that have never been here. I can't say I was particularly trained in the art of observance at the time, and this deficit marked my experience. I decided that I would never come to a place like that for college. It was industrial and Gothic, and I had no idea what that meant.

Months later I failed to get into the main campus of Penn State University. At the time I didn't realize it, but this was incredibly fortuitous. Because Pitt was the rival of that Sunday Blue Law school. I was westbound and running with the sun. In retrospect I mark that as one of the very first substantial crossroads of my life I ever arrived at. And I've been thankful for the path I chose. For a few years I couldn't shake the stink of the East, but one summer I discovered the magic of the 'Burgh, and merged into its rivers. Getting back to the main thread, I'm grateful that I didn't have a fuckin' clue that fateful junior year at Pitt. Because I added up all my credits to see what I would major in (I had been promised a four-year sponsorship), and Psychology won out.

I suppose that I could look back at that time and believe that my spirit and/or intuition was guiding me. When I was completing my fourth year (yes, I finished my B.S. right on time), I knew I had nowhere clear to go. And I stayed and entered graduate school for psychology in education (that was the only seemingly functional masters degree offered for my chosen content). It was there that I really began thinking about individual personalities. For quite some time I matched them with the characters I knew... always externalizing those templates. It's only now (over a decade later) that I'm beginning to truly understand that they were always part of my self. It's a refreshing awakening.

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Blogger Gary Carden said...

I am always amazed when I hear people talk about the strong foundation that they received in something like art or philosophy because nothing like that happened to me. Apparently, I attended a lousy college ... or what is more likely, I was so totally uninvolved in my college studies, I retained nothing. All of that came years later when I had enough maturity to actually reflect on what I was reading/thinking/doing.

8:26 PM  

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