Being Capable of Interest, or Even Excited Enthusiasm

        The most important lesson you can learn to improve your chances of success in life, including academic life, would be the ability to find the part of your brain/consciousness that turns on your curiosity.  If you can learn to control your curiosity, instead of letting your unconscious drives and appetites control it, you can become enthusiastic about any topic before you.  Think about the advantages of being able to be enthusiastically curious at any time.  Life, itself, is not inherently organized to appeal to your curiosity, and it will present you with many tedious tasks which you will be told (or will discover for yourself) are necessary before you are allowed to do what you want.  People who do well at such tasks typically contrive ways to play with them in productive ways, or to discover hidden within them issues that they already care passionately about.  Those tricks require creative thinking, something you should want to practice at every opportunity, but even more they require mental agility and energy. 

        If you're psychologically asleep, awake but alienated, depressed, hung-over, angry, or obsessed by something else which is blocking your perception of your task, you will not be agile, nor will you be energetic.  You must nurture your mind's energies if you want to have fun in this business (i.e., academia, or anywhere else in life).  If you do not take charge of your mind, but rather let it lead you wildly wherever its unknown drives will take it, you may easily find yourself "bored" by things you do in any course.  Just remember that the boredom takes place in the mind of the bored; it is not a property of anything outside the mind.  Courses, books, and tasks cannot "be boring."  Only minds can be bored.  The universe is far stranger, more exciting, and dangerous, than a bored mind can perceive in a state of dullness and dissipation.  The bored mind needs first aid, starting with rest (even a 10-minute cat-nap) and perhaps some physical exercise to burn off the noxious vapors.  (I prefer a walk around the loop, or a quick trip up and down the tower stairs of Van Meter.)  Above all, don't be lured into blaming the innocent exterior object of the bored mind's attention.  Nothing in the universe "is boring," but to the bored, all the universe's treasures are hidden.

        Please take care of yourself this semester, and remember, if you are not having fun, you probably are doing it wrong.  Talk to me.  Let me help you diagnose what stands between you and the free exercise of your creativity.