In a Norman Funk

I sat down to download “The Last Metro,” a movie that I have to watch for my “France in World War II” class, and I thought that while it loaded I would blog.

Then, I realized there is not much on mind that would be interesting to anyone. The reason I say that is because there is not much on my mind. Not to say that I am not in the midst of some game-changing life events, but because besides those anomalous events, I have been reduced to a Normandy Scholar without much to say.

I will cover the game-changing events briefly, so you get some perspective into my mind-set. First and foremost, I have to change YoungLife schools. There was a fiasco at Travis High School that altered the future of YoungLife there, and I am just one casualty of it. I chose to move to another school instead of quitting YoungLife altogether, but switching schools is harder than changing, in my opinion.

At the crux of it all, YoungLife helps kids grow their faith through our relationships with the students. The relationships are the most valuable thing in YoungLife, and now that I have to move, I am losing them. I am sad, very sad, but it is out of my hands. Abandoning the kids that I promised I would watch graduate sickens me. Kids at Travis need stability before all else, and here I am, just one more transient figure in their life. I promised them myself, and I could not even give them that.

Still, the fiasco at the school was in no way my fault, but the miasma that hangs over the school makes me question whether I would be effective at all if I continued there. So, I am leaving Travis and moving to another school. I do not know which one yet, but it will most likely still be East Austin, that is to say urban. I will happily inform you about future events.

The second game-changer in this last week was much more positive. I accepted a job offer at the Laity Lodge Youth Camp this summer as a cook, where I will work with five other cooks for five weeks to feed the campers and staff. I will work at the same time as my friends Sean Flack and Luke Harle, and that alone is exciting. I am also looking foward to testing the waters of cooking in a semi-professional manner. Lately I have been considering chefdom more, and the fact that I was offered a job–not as a counselor at the camp–but as a cook, encourages my desire. Plus, I will not be simply cleaning dishes or cutting vegetables, because a seperate crew takes care of that. My job is to work with the few other cooks to actually prepare three meals a day. A perk of the job is that I will have more free time than I would as a counselor, so I will be able to help with skits, practice banjo and write, hang out with my friends, interact with campers, and get paid for all of it.

The final game-changer, and something that is more indicative of my average life, is that school last week was a burner. Perhaps it was the hardest week of school I’ve had, at least in recent memory. I loved it though, and now it is over; but,¬†between the sleep-depravity, the high of receiving a cooking job, and the low of losing Travis YoungLife I was tossed through an emotional ocean.

All of which brings me back to my first point: I do not have much to say anymore. Normandy has ground me to dust, despite the fact that I have managed time well. There is no way to avoid the work-load: there is no amount of time-management expertise that can deflect the hours I need to commit that I do not have. It has made me question my choice, because I feel that I am doing much less than I was doing last semester.

I changed a lot last semester, mostly because I had time to think and grow. I broke my jaw, and that evolved me as a person. I converted to Catholicism, and that certainly changed me outside and in. I solidified life-long friends in the process, and I cultivated my interests as a person. Last year at this time I had much more free-time to grow, whereas this year free-time is rare.

When I signed up for Normandy I knew it would limit what I could do during the semester, but I did not anticipate how much I would like being limited. I walked through West Campus this weekend thinking about how I spend my time. I am constantly at the library because there is no panacea to cure me of my assigned reading. My mood has darkened as I am bombarded by anecdotes, memoirs, pictures, and documents that tell stories about death, death, death. The morbid theme bludgeons me every day as I read about it, watch movies about it, takes notes about it, and have nightmares about it. Audrey warned me that Normandy is depressing but I thought it was because (sorry for being sexist) she was a girl. Girls are more emotionally acute(typically) than guys, and so they are more effected by things like this. I have found that it has affected me harshly too, and we are not even to the darkest parts.

I am a Normandy Scholar and not much else it seems. I am involved with Bible Studies and Environmental Awareness groups, and a few other activities, but my free time has been sacrificed. I like choosing to limit myself, but I have found that I do not like being unable to lift that limit. I enjoy placing austere Lenten limitations on myself, because it is a short period and it is voluntary; but NSP is not a short period and I underestimated it. I do not regret it, and obviously the best is still to come (the Maymester). I was prideful in my abilities and have been humbled, and that is such a good lesson. I enjoy knowing that I am in the midst of what may be my hardest semester ever and I am doing quite well by all outward appearences. I just cannot shake the gloom this program has brought: the time-committment, the macabre lessons, and the constant languor.

What do I have to talk about? World War II? Not YoungLife. Not a new club I’m trying, a new experiment I am undertaking, and certainly not free time downtown I am embracing. I have war on my mind, and a war in my mind. I am an automaton of facts and literary references that few people care about, and my relationships with others have suffered. On top of everything I am going through, my roomates are in the midst of their own struggles. Herculean struggles, with much greater emotional tolls than my battle. Yet I have been unable to be there for them because I have been all-consumed within myself. This semester has been hard for all of us–in fact Michael and I have discovered that we will probably look back on this year as the most depressing for us as a group. But it has been a pleasure to spend it with such fine people, and it pleases me daily to be tested as much as I am.

In a Norman Funk

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