“Remember we are aiming for a proposal by Thanksgiving-ish.” (quick intake of breath)
A thesis proposal, that would be. (exhale slowly) To be approached calmly and rationally and without bustle or flurry.
But still it seems a breathtakingly reckless rate of speed, and I find myself wistful for world enough, and time to sit amidst the ideas and breathe their scent and take their flavor on my tongue, to crumble them between my thumb and forefinger and watch the way the dust falls, to bend them and see if they snap, hold the bend, or spring back, to roll them up into one ball and bounce it off the walls and floor of the literary establishment, listening for the echoes of the bounce. Having done all of that, I might know better why they are important and what it is that must be so urgently said of them.
Urgent only, however, because of time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near and the graduation application I mailed four days ago. And still that question of why graduate and what am I doing anyway, when there are so many ways I would rather spend my time than generating proposals for long papers I don’t actually wish to write? So many things that actually mean something. And already the questions — I ask them as much as anyone — of what comes next, when the paper is finished and defended and I can put a flourish and an M.A. after my name?
I want to rebel against it, to dig in my heels and insist that our sun stand still and we all stop and look only at now, not then. To scream out that the urgency isn’t to write a proposal by Thanksgiving-ish; the urgency is to see all of today before it disappears, to catch all its strength and sweetness, to miss none of its grace. Because I’m afraid of what I might miss, while bouncing balls off literary walls and floors and speculating about doors which are still far away. Because I want to have time to sit down in the middle of only today, to smell and taste it, to crumble it between my thumb and forefinger, to listen for its echoes with its first sounding still ringing in my ears, to pause at each person I meet and see the day reflected in their eyes. Because I want to remember the time between now and Thanksgiving as more than a wild careening to accomplish all necessary things.
*As a conscientious graduate student: I am indebted to Dr. Miller for the opening quotation, and to Andrew Marvell for the non-parenthetical italicized bits.