It seems a bit of an irony ("incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs,") that the course I'm taking on spiritual direction; listening, discerning, etc. seems so fraught with stress in my daily existence. Some days it grants me strength for another day, while other days it completely takes all the strength I have to remain in it.
I am so discouraged by it these days. I feel as though it is a mountain too great to climb, and I was made for the flatlands.
But even as I write that I know it's not true. The tools I'm learning and the experiences I'm having in the practice of the discipline/craft/art, are totally life giving to me.
I think the problem is more that I hate school.
Really, I'm not good at school and I never have been. At best I was always a C student, and every grade I got was hard fought for. Studying hard, working overtime, being attentive in class, not being the kid the math teacher threw his piece of chalk at, all that and still I could barely get by.
But I am not stupid. I learned coping mechanisms, skills to help me get by. Like, I couldn't ever remember that 7x6= ..... hang on, I'm thinking... 6+6 is 12, + 6 is 18, now what's 18 + 18, hmm 8 and 8 = 16 plus three ones = 3 so its 36 plus one more 6 = 42. Taa Daa!! "42, the answer is 42!"
Yeah, I still do that. And its easier to do that than to remember that the answer is 42. Seems like anyway.
Anyway, now you know how to keep me busy for a while. Just ask me what 8x8 equals.
As a result I've always had to work hard in school situations. Always with similar, mediocre results.
This course I'm in now is a pass/fail model. That means there are no shades of grey, no 62% or 56% depending on the pass or fail point here. It's either all or nothing. And I really really don't want to fail. I. Hate. Failing.
So I notice the coping mechanisms coming up again.
I over-compensate on the homework. Try to read more than the required amount. Try to make the papers perfect, better, right.
Maybe if I delay their submission I can still improve on them, tweak them a bit.
Gotta gather more information, don't want to miss a piece.
And so it goes. Coping, working, worrying...
And I know, for some people it's just a piece of paper to hang on a wall or like I do, line the gerbil cage with it. If the gifts and calling are there to do the work then continue to do it. And I will. I have been doing this type of care for a long time now.
I suppose I wanted to take the course to make sure I was doing it right and to enlarge my experience and growth.
I like learning, it's just the schooling that kills me.
So, I guess at any turn my pass/fail number could come up fail and I'd be done. And learning to deal with failure could be the best learning experience of my life.
I just don't want to have to learn it this way. But then again, do we ever like to learn through the hard times?
Ending on a more positive note, one of my simplest deepest pleasures is that our kids are smart, well for the most part.
The jury's still out for a couple of them, but they didn't seem to get my ability in the classroom, which is good.
But when they do work hard and only get a C, I'm the guy in the room who knows better than the others just what that feels like.