I write this in the waning days of Jesuit Camp '05 as I stare out on the gorgeous vista of mountains and the lovely Regis University campus. I've had a really great time out here and I'm definitely going to be sad when we depart on Saturday.
There's really not much to report since the Great White Water Rafting Adventure of over a week ago. I did play a feis for Anne Hall this weekend which was a great - albeit hot - two days. It's hard to believe that I used to play 2-day feiseanna pretty frequently "back in my youth" and I assure you that, after almost a full year away from such active playing, I can still feel both days in my back. Soreness aside, it was great being back among "my people" and I feel both more secure in my desire to be a Jesuit (less painful than playing the accordion on the weekends) and more grateful for the opportunity to serve and promote my Irish heritage as a musician.
Just returning from the gym (yes, I still go to the gym. It'd be hard to fathom that my current physical perfection was achieved solely by nature) I'm struck with the great changes I've undergone in just under one year of novitiate: working out, wearing shorts and sandals, going rafting, playing frisbee/softball, running, and now I've the extreme desire to...go swimming! My parents will attest to the fact that I'm something of a hydrophobia these last 13 years or so...it'd be nice to think that I had some near-death experience in the water (like a shark attacking me in Lake Erie) but, I suppose, the real reason that I hated going swimming is because I was a fat kid and was really self-conscious about my physical appearance.
This'll sound strange to some, but it's probably pretty accurate. I recall quite vividly how much I enjoyed swimming and I am ashamed to say that I gave up something that I enjoyed because I allowed the perception of others to shape and contour my own desires and actions. Remarkable this is particularly in light of the fact that the accordion is certainly not the most socially acceptable instrument and that really never deterred me from learning it. Such is a life on inconsistency.
This leads me, though, to question how often I/we/one allows external pressures to look good, play/perform/act well, etc., to prevent them from exploring or engaging in an activity. I don't think I ever hated softball or football, I was more mortified by the fact that I was klutzy and ran funny. My perception of my own reality - as distorted or accurate as it may have been - really erected walls that prevented me from trying new things, from growing in areas of my life that I felt were beyond my reach. It's a testimony to a good and supportive community that one can slowly overcome these barriers only to find oneself free and willing to take new and more exciting risks for personal growth and development.
Next on the list: Tazmanian burlesque or some form of exotic dancing.
In case you're curious about the confessional tone of today's post, I reckon it's due to the fact that if you're going to take time to read my blog, you may as well get some insight into my life. I don't conceive of my blog as providing an objective view of novitiate/Jesuit life; rather, I see this as an opportunity to share with others my own growth and development. I entered the Jesuits in part to challenge the world and I have found myself challenged more than I could ever have dreamed. It would unfair for me to report nothing but static instances of my day-to-day life without recording the narrative of my journey.
(I include this because I was recently asked why my site was "personal" as though it ought to be boring and removed from my own experience.)
Ok, I'm off to class. I'll not post for another week or so (not until I return from my pilgrimage to CLEVELAND for a retreat with Drew Marquard) and I hope all of you are having a great summer. To Michael and Brian, I EXPECT you to be working on the Mary Bergin CD so that you have some phat sets of tunes to perform. I post this on my site in order that, in addition to my usual nagging, it put pressure on you to spend your summer well by practicing the whistle.
Oh, and at some point I'll post the tale of my mother's car being broken into and my mother chasing the thief down the street demanding her stuff back. When the man threatened to "pull out his pistol" my mother - Atilla the Hon(ey) - mocked him out and, as I can see it in my mind's eye, probably pointed her finger at him, rolled back on her heels, and said, "What Pistol? You don't have a pistol!" (those were here words; her physical gestures are just my conjurings). Leave it to Michele; and yes, she did get most of her stuff back from the man. I wonder, though, why Hagan wasn't around to aide her...perhaps she was reading one of my books???
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