Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mea Culpa

I'm a terrible human being. No, really, it's true. Let me explain:

Last night I was checking up on my grad school applications, and I noticed that a letter of reference had yet to arrive from a professor who'd agreed to do it some time ago. Now, the grad office had very nicely agreed to let me apply even though the application deadline had passed a few days previously, and a month later my application remained unfinished due to the lack of said reference letter. I was thrown into a panic. My hopes and dreams for this year are very much tied up in attaining a master's degree, and if I didn't get in simply because the professor hadn't bothered to send a letter of reference ... well, what was I to do?

Now, this professor is in the physics department (my undergrad major), but the program I'm applying to is economics. My mind immediately leapt to the conclusion - wholly unsupported by any evidence - that this man had spitefully decided to withdraw his support solely because I'd turned my back on his noble profession. I wanted to call him up, shout at him, "You two-faced bucktoothed goblin, you've destroyed my year!" Revenge fantasies swam through my head: I'd take him to small-claims court, to recoup my wasted application fees; I'd hand out defamatory leaflets outside the lab; I'd stencil a black magic sigil on his office door; I'd ... this and that and all manner of other vile things.

I didn't sleep well at all last night. So strong was the pull of the negative attractor my mind had fallen into that I could find no peace.

But today, I called up. It turns out that while the application deadline is well passed, the deadline for reference letters is considerably more generous, with quite some time remaining. He simply hasn't gotten around to it yet, but only because he's your stereotypical absent-minded professor, with a head full of abstract mathematics and the weight of the underraduate program on his shoulders. Talking to him, hearing his mild voice and mannered words, I was reminded of what a pleasant and decent man he is. He's helped me before, in other manners, and is helping me again.

And I wished him ill, because ... because of fear, I suppose. And under the shadow of that fear I assumed the worst, as I so often do. And so I wished him ill, and saw a deformed and hideous part of myself that, much as I hate to acknowledge it, is indeed a part of myself. It's come to the surface before, and I'm sure it will rear it's ugly head again, sometime in the future. It seems only fair that I give that monster its due, which is why I'm telling you all about it, whether you want to know or not.

And, professor? You won't read this, nor will you ever hear about it. You won't know the awful things I thought. And nor will you know now that I'm sending a blessing your way. You deserve much better students than I.


nina said...

Fear of terrorism is a contagious, but treatable dis-ease.

psychegram said...

And I was a Typhoid Mary for years. That side of me is one I know only too well ... three, four years ago I was so terrified of the Muslim Threat I would've fully supported 'burning out the cancer' with nuclear fire.

Fear does terrible things to the human mind. Every once in a while I get a reminder of that ... like last night.

nina said...

I know the feeling and the equally awful regretful feeling when the truth comes out. Its all in pre-supposing the intents of others. We don't like it when its done to us, either. I just try to remember never to take someone else for granted. But this issue you bring up has all sorts of points for consideration. We see it on so many levels so often. It might even be a number one catalyst for dividing civilization. Its very good you posted this!

psychegram said...

I almost had to post this ... not doing so would have been dishonest, to myself as well as to all of you. To pretend I hadn't thought and felt these things, well, maybe I could've done that several years ago. On the path I'm struggling along now, though, if I don't wrestle with that side of myself I'll never get anywhere.

As you say, there are all sorts of levels from which to consider this dynamic. What happens in one mind is a microcosm of what happens at the level of whole civilizations ... and yes, it's absolutely one of the mechanisms by which society is divided against itself (and, for that matter, by which the individual is divided against herself.) And how can we be expected to deal successfully with the manipulations of terror that are consciously inflicted from outside unless we can master the anxieties that bubble up from our subconscious and chew away at us on the inside? A rhetorical question, of course.

susana said...

It is amazing what one projects onto others.
It is a particularly dominant tendency with me.
At times awareness will nudge me and remind me that whatever opinions i have of others are purely the creation of this mind and thankfully with that they tend to dissipate.
But something to do with the times, they are coming faster and furioser then ever and although awareness does remind me I fear for her exhaustion.
So taking matters in mind I am on day 3 of a grape fast.
Regarding it as a deep cleanse on all levels.
Something has to give, either this mind or me.

And Pyschegram thank you for sharing that aspect - your honesty encourages mine.
Mucho garcias.

psychegram said...

A grape fast, eh? Interesting technique. I have a nagging sense that I should be engaging on some sort of detox myself, and no doubt I will someday, maybe even soon ... but for now, the self-discipline just isn't there yet.

The things that are most painful to share are often the most important ... however much we may fear exposing our darkest aspects to the light, we gain far more self-knowledge this way than any other.