Sunday, October 5, 2008

Change of standpoint

Before I came here, my friends and I speculated on how long I’d last in the dorm. My favorite guess was by John Cranston, who thought I’d last either five minutes or 30 days. We were wrong, however. Something shifted during my third night.

On night #2 I couldn’t get to bed until late because Paolo was consoling/counseling/schmoozing a struggling student of Italian. Perhaps I should have offered some adjectives. She is a young, luscious and bewitching student. I went upstairs to the gym and lifted weights until 11:00, when I came down and prepared for bed, driving out poor Vittoria.

On night #3 I came home from the ballet soaked by a drenching rain, thinking that living near the center of town would have certain advantages but still imagining that those advantages wouldn’t outweigh the advantages of living in the dorm. When I came into the room, Vittoria was there, looking ever more luscious and radiant. Paolo was preparing them a spaghetti dinner. Though I just wanted to dry off and go to bed, I went next door and invited myself to tea with my Turkish neighbors. They are delightful, and I enjoyed their homegrown tea as much as I enjoyed their hospitality.

Still, I couldn’t spend the night with them so I came back after a while and prepared for bed. I figured if Vittoria wasn’t leaving then I’d just put on my eyeshades and pretend she had gone. Fortunately, she was gracious enough to call it a night and head home before I finished brushing my teeth. Unfortunately, neither the Turks nor I felt ready to sleep after our Turkish tea. I lay in bed and listened to Paolo fiddle with his TV and MP3 player, regularly overshadowed by laughter and discussion from the Turks next door. I thought about leaving the dorm, and felt sad to give up its camaraderie. I also worried about offending the University folks who worked hard to accommodate me. And I hoped the Brazilian guy really did leave voluntarily.

Somehow I made my decision overnight, though I wasn’t immediately aware of the fact. But when I went to take a shower, I realized that I was eager to leave that bathroom behind. In fact, suddenly I saw a lot of things I’d be happy to leave behind. Click! The decision felt complete.

Surprised to find myself suddenly bothered by things that seemed OK the day before, I remembered a couple of religious lessons about the importance of operating from the right spiritual standpoint. My dormitory experience illustrated how something that looks great from one standpoint can look quite different from another standpoint. I could go on about learning to look through God’s eyes, but that’s really a topic for another essay at another time. I’m still learning.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe that my 5 minutes or 30 days hypothesis was wrong! Glad to hear that you are having a good time and in an environment where you can rest and be comfortable.