Thursday, June 23, 2011

Declining in Berkeley!

An intrepid crew of students - 7 Jesuits, one lay student - has spent the last several days slogging, clawing, and bargaining our way through Wheelock's Latin. As you might expect, each one of us is dealing with the trauma of "Intensive Summer Latin" differently. Indeed, each of us probably falls somewhere within the Five Stages of Grief and Loss

  1. Denial - "Oh my God! I can't believe this man is actually expecting us to learn all of these vocabulary words plus the grammar. This is are we ever going to cover all forty chapters in six weeks?"
  2. Anger - "I hate my formation director who approved this summer course. There is a reason no one speaks Latin any more: it's a stupid language! Why can't I have a delightful summer assignment of chewing aluminum foil or doing crafts?"
  3. Bargaining -  "Listen, professor, none of us wants to be here. Why don't we just pretend to do Latin and we'll watch YouTube videos all day. Or how about we slow down and, if we don't cover the whole book, no one will be the wiser." 
  4. Depression - "It's ten o'clock at night and I've spent the last six hours studying these chapters. I still have to memorize today's vocabulary, take the quiz tomorrow, and for what? Another two chapters tomorrow and more vocabulary! This is never going to end..."
  5. Acceptance - "Wow, it's only nine days in and I've learned a ton already. This isn't so bad - sure, it's a lot of work and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, but this is really valuable and I'm glad to be doing this course with fun guys and in a beautiful setting." 
I suspect you'll get a sense of where I'm at if you read carefully!

I've come to regard this whole experience as my "Retreat with Latin." Given my retreat experience with the Benedictine Monks two months ago, I reckon I'm inclined toward seeing my life as something of ora et labora or "prayer and work" with a fixed schedule. I arise early, pray, and then shower. I walk down to Peet's Coffee where the barista has taken to referring to me as "White Papers" since I come in each morning with my vocabulary list in my hands. I return to my room, study a bit more, go to class and then lunch, followed by four hours of study, daily Eucharist, social, dinner, and then three more hours of study. It's a pretty nice, regular schedule during the week, one that allows me free time on the weekend to go out and see the Bay Area.

I feel bad that posting is light these days, but it's hard to squeeze out time to write. Tonight we have only one chapter to cover so I feel a little less pressure, but I know there is a lot of studying yet to do. Please be assured of my continued prayers, even within the relative silence of the blog, and know that when I have some free time that I'll surely have more to share. 
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