To A Spectre:
1. I am dismayed at the amount of destruction I have allowed to be wreaked upon me and that I have participated in wreaking.
2. I am clearing out files and finding old identity cards. I see the bright face of the person I helped to destroy, in the era in which I was accepting so much destruction.
3. I feel guilty about my distaste for academic labor at the level I practice it, and about my inability to ignore the distaste.
4. I should have been able to practice this craft at a higher level, or if not, I should have adjusted to where I have been.
5. I feel I should have been more resigned, or should have believed life was unhappy. I should not have aspired to more or wanted to change.
6. I feel guilty for having analytical capability, opinions, appetites, ideas, interests, desires.
7. I keep trying to make sense of all of this. Is it that I was not actually interested? Why is it so difficult to drum up interest now? Why do I read motivational websites in fascinated horror? Why do I feel so guilty about the fact that my problem is not time management, and has no such simple cure?
8. Because I was always menaced with the idea that my efforts would be fruitless for me and harmful to others. Any form of success was impossible and also immoral. I should just find someone to marry. Anything else was a waste and a sacrilege. This was why I had to commit to and become a mega-success at the very first thing I tried, perhaps; I had to disprove everything I had been told, as soon and as resoundingly as possible.
9. It is important to remember that the problem is not actually interest or skill. The problem is that I see academic work as something I will suffer debilitating abuse for doing. So I am very interested, but I am also terrified about what will happen to me at home if I am found working.
10. This definition of the problem is key. And I continue to run in place because the person who would be strong enough to defy and defeat the terrorists, is also the person who would be strong enough to leave. Can this person be called forth here, or must I leave, first, so as to find her again?
11. If you look at things closely, you see that my entire existence is devoted to atoning for having gone to college and graduate school as I did. It hurt certain people a lot, they said and say, and I have made my bed and I must lie in it, because I was amply warned.
12. So long as I am still here, how can I forge a different relationship to this work? Am I having this crisis because I have already begun to do so? What magic words can I use to protect myself from caring what some people think?
13. Rage and sorrow are two feelings I have more of than I would like. If I have to listen seriously one more time to an explanation of how someone “mistreated” me by sending to me to college, I will be capable of murder.
14. This might be the mantra, actually: it was my right, and I did it, and I did well. I am sorry some people were so unhappy about it. But it was my inheritance, and I used it in the spirit in which it was left me, and I did well.
15. It is true that if I had not felt as guilty about going to college and graduate school, I might have done better in life than I have.
16. Had I felt less guilty, though, I might have chosen a major that would have hurt some people’s sensibilities even more than did the one I in fact chose.
17. There is no solution to make us both happy, Spectre. Had I been happier, your uneasiness would have been yet greater. So we struck the compromise we struck, back then.
18. We made the deal we made for a good reason, after some thought. It was not a terrible choice. So please, Spectre, let up on this topic.
19. Spectre, it was decades ago and I got good degrees and skills. For the rest of my life I would like to enjoy those and appreciate the opportunities I have had and will have.
20. Please. I am burning white candles in this room and I want you to leave me in peace.