Last night, I followed the link that Marga Lyall sent me to the M.Phil in International Relations reading list. Looking at the week-by-week list for a single course, I am flabbergasted. It’s an astonishing amount of reading. It includes 25 books as ‘general reading’ and a similar number for every week. Even reading 14 hours a day, I don’t think anyone could actually read all of this. There must be something I am missing.
I am happy to note that Jonathan is now on board for the hike tomorrow. I met with him this afternoon for coffee and then a walk up Mosquito Creek with their dog, Buddy. I remember that perpetually energetic black beast accompanying us on my first two trips to Hornby Island: the one where I slept in a hammock in a grove of Arbutus trees; the one where I met Kate. Jonathan has been off canoeing for the past few days and it was certainly good to spend some time with him. I learned that he just got a job at the bakery in the Whole Foods within the new addition to Park Royal. From what I’ve heard, they are an unusually good employer and I am glad for him.
After having a cup of tea with Jonathan and his father, I headed home and spent the evening reading – not from the intimidating reading list above, though that may have been wise. Instead, I finished most of this week’s Economist and read to nearly the end of The Great Fire, which I still recommend heartily to most everyone. As I walked home, I saw Sarah Stewart outside of Starbucks, learned that today is her birthday, and invited her to my farewell party. Though I’ve been mildly smitten with her, to varying degrees, since high school, this will be the first time we do anything social and not related to school or her employment at Starbucks.
With five days left in Vancouver, the few hurried hours I will have on Wednesday morning not really counting, the time has come to turn to packing and other final preparation. In some sense, the hike falls into the latter category: a symbolic traverse of North Vancouver as a prelude to my dispatch. I find the flavour of my own apprehension difficult to assess. While there is definitely a manic, racing excitement that sometimes speeds my step when walking, there are elements of uncertainty – even dread – to counterpoint it. I worry about money, about the amount of reading that must be done, about the whole academic world. The last, in particular, is a concern. While I’ve certainly read and studied a lot, I’ve never really paid attention to specific authors. I know next to nothing about International Relations as an academic discipline. My exposure to IR theory is limited to the one Crawford class, which was mostly a savaging of Realism in all its forms.
While the whole scholarly approach to things is appealing to me, not least because I am reasonably good at it, I can’t legitimately suppress the knowledge that much of it is a waste of time: thoughts just spun around and going nowhere. I think that Kerrie’s decision to go off into the world and make a practical difference is the more courageous, the more respectable course. I applaud her for it and think anxiously of when I will pay off my massive debt to chance: to the million fortuitous accidents that put me here now with the skills, resources, and opportunities I have. In a world where there is to be any kind of fairness between people, that kind of spectacular fortune needs to be paid back to the world.
These daily entries feel solid: obligatory. Blog entries like ships-of-the-line, with cannons at the ready. In my mind, the blog is no longer a place for conspiratorial whisperings or the sharing of anything but the most blue-chip of thoughts. Such intimacy was probably never suited to the internet. Still, I can’t help regretting the loss of a place where entries could be the whispered asides of an unfolding life.