To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Part 1: Post 10: Getting Results

As expected, it got cold again over the weekend. It feels like winter again, although the days are starting to get much longer. When I walk to Zazen in the morning, it's not quite dark anymore--it's not very light, I don't think you could read by it, but dawn had definitely begun. After the week of slushy melting, the snow now has a thick, hard crust. When you walk on it, you stay on top for a moment and then crunch through. Step, crunch, step, crunch. I keep hoping the crust will thicken up so I can walk on top of it--I've always loved that. Going back to my conversation with Allen, I find it magical.

As expected, also, we got the results from all our various placement tests and interviews this morning. Lists of who will be required to take what were posted in the entrance foyer after breakfast--which was a bit strange, since usually everyone's so big on privacy here, but I suppose it's useful for us all to know where we stand. After all, it comes down to how many years we're really going to spend together.

So, yes, Arther is going to be a "one hit wonder." He just has to take a few classes and work with a master in one area--not that he's missing any mastery area, but he has to learn something while he's here. You can meet the mastery requirements any way you want--like, you can fulfill the art requirement with any form of art, and so on, so I think he has to learn a different art than the one he already has, something like that.

Both Kayla and Nora will have to spend more than four years here, and both must pass the GED at some point as well. Nora is irritated by the GED requirement but then she's irritated by most things, and I don't think Kayla has an opinion. The GED is still very far away for her. Nora is on a six year program, and apparently will take only half as many credits per semester as normal. Kayla will take one course per year for four years and then be re-evaluated.

And me. I was right, I did get out of both art and athletics, but I'm down for the full four years anyway. I couldn't believe it. Greg was walking by behind me on the way out of breakfast so I caught up with him and asked if he remembered why that decision had been made.

"Yes," he said, and just looked at me. I was not in the mood for his literalism, none of the masters will answer a question straight, even when they know what you mean, but I'm not going to give someone like Greg a hard time. He's not exactly friendly. So I went ahead and asked him why the decision was made.

"You aren't required to spend four years here, if you finish your requirements earlier than that, but because you are still missing spiritual development and have no prior experience in magic, we suggest that you expect to take four years. Spiritual development takes time." He turned to go, but then turned back to me and searched my face for a moment. "You seem upset, angry. You might want to sit with that feeling, and the feeling under the feeling, for a while."

He was right, I felt angry, and I didn't understand why. I hadn't really lost anything. I knew what he meant by sitting with a feeling--it means just paying attention, without thinking about it or trying to change or avoid it, but I went and sat by myself and thought instead. I was humiliated, I guess, but it made no sense. I'm nineteen, and I'm going to spend four years getting my bachelor's degree; big whoop. Anyway, I had no time to sit: I had to go report for my job as a janitor.

When I went for lunch I bumped into Ollie and asked him to eat with me. It's been a week or two since I've really needed my buddy as such, but all morning I'd been thinking, ok, I've got my curriculum now, I'm a "full-course yearling," except for those two areas, now what? Now I need to pick masters. Of course, I don't actually need to start picking anybody for months; only the masters for spirit and athletics even need to be chosen by the beginning of fall semester. But I want to start thinking about it, and I really don't know how. So I asked Ollie.

"How do you pick a master?" I asked him.

"That depends," he told me. "If you want a specific skill, you choose a master who has that skill. It doesn't even have to be anyone here. Or, if you feel a connection with someone, that's who you pick. You can pick the same person in multiple areas, too, you know. It's usually easier to work with as few masters as possible because then your work ends up thematically related. For example, I'm studying both counseling and stage magic with Allen. And I run with an outside coach."

"You run? We should go running together in the spring."


"But how do you know who teaches what?" I asked.

"You remember the new students' pamphlet? That lists their main specialties."

"But that's not all, is it? I mean, someone was telling me there's a mastery candidate learning magic from Greg. The pamphlet doesn't say anything about Greg teaching magic."

Ollie smiled at me.

"Well, that's it," he told me. "Rumor, listen to rumor. And it's ok to ask. If you think someone might be able to teach something, ask them about it."

"They all had to learn all the areas, though, right?"

"They all had to gain competence, back when they were novices, everyone except Greg, who never was a novice, or even a candidate. But to gain mastery you only need to master one subject. Most of them pick up other areas of mastery as they go, and the areas overlap a lot, anyway, so they can teach multiple subjects. But you can't assume that they all know multiple areas--I don't even think they all keep up with the competences they learned as novices. Like Charlie; I don't think he even practices magic anymore at all. I'm not sure he believes in it."

I thought about it, and I asked more questions, about what it was like to work with a master, exactly what that meant. Just before we left the Dining Hall, I asked one more question. I'm not even sure why I asked it.

"What's Charlie's religion?"

"Huh? Oh, I don't know," Ollie answered. "He's not Christian, I don't think. Why?"

"I dunno. No reason."

This is another of the images from the curtains over our dorm room windows. As I mentioned, every room had a different designon the curtain. I forget who had this one.

[Next post:February 29: Tin Whistle Evening ]

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