Naomi Neal, Kathryn Stresak, Dorian Gomberg, Ed Vlcek, and Brad Krautwurst are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Internship/Mentorship (SIM) Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
As the title suggests, last week was a short one for me, and this will, accordingly, be a short post. I worked at the pool construction site on Tuesday after a hectic visa-application-frenzied Monday, and then the week unraveled from there. On Wednesday my roommate extraordinaire and fellow Shimer blogger Alex Rosenberg came down to visit and celebrate Independence Day with me; we visited the nearby beach town of New Buffalo, Michigan and grilled up a vegan feast at sunset in my beautiful borrowed backyard. On Thursday I worked on TFI-related online projects from Chicago, and then on Friday embarked on a weekend trip to meet my significant other's family for the first time.
Phew. I'm exhausted just thinking about it all.
Because I didn't do all that much that was new or substantial in terms of my internship-as-such last week, I'd like to briefly explore something tangential: solitude. One of the biggest but hardest-to-talk-about aspects of my life here at Tryon is the fact that I spend the majority of my day alone or performing solitary jobs. In Letters to a Young Poet, which we read in my German tutorial this past spring, Rilke extols the strengthening and enlightening virtues of solitude, but even before stumbling through the German prose of his argument, I've always had an affinity for aloneness. I believe that it was growing up an only child that made me this way, just as it nurtured the bibliophilia that brought me to Shimer. I embarked on this internship expecting isolation, and welcoming it.
And I can see, or at least, I think I can see, some of my newfound solitude's positive influence on me already. I'm reading for pleasure more than I have since before I started college, and the literature and the lonesomeness combined have drawn out my preternaturally frail introspective abilities: I know myself better than usual, these days.
But, contrary to my expectations, I wouldn't say that I've become especially productive in my hours of isolation--that, of course, is the compensation for my renewed passion for fiction. And when I do get lonely, like last Tuesday afternoon when I had nothing but hours to kill and I was tired of reading after two hundred pages, there's not much I can do about it. Not to mention the ribs I bruised last week while cooking dinner, a simple result of clumsiness--in my most hypochondriac moments of pain, there's no one here to talk me down.
So, while I'm getting better at being alone and even rejoicing in my progress, a part of me realizes that I shouldn't try to get too used to it. This summer, I've been paying close attention to the "work" aspect of Arendt's vita activa, but I must also keep in mind that an active life is a balanced life.