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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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
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.
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."
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.
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."
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