Back in prehistoric times when I was in college, what turned out to be my toughest class came as a surprise. It wasn’t biology or statistics or algebra, some of the classes I though might challenge me. It wasn’t even the graduate psych seminar I finagled my way into as an undergrad.
None of the other classes compared to an intro to Eastern Civ class at the community college.
The professor wasn’t just insanely knowledgeable. He was extremely demanding. He expected us to develop a level of expertise on the subject far beyond what I would have imagined, even for a much more advanced class.
It was a small group of maybe 25. The tests were very difficult and frequent.A few dropped out after the first test. I wasn’t entirely sure if I would be able to pass, which is saying something for me. But I hung in there.
Those of us who stayed soon began recording his lectures, so that we could listen several times before the next class because that’s really what it took. By the end of the semester, there was a little tape recorder on every desk.
He joked that he felt like he was giving a press conference.
I think I studied more for that final than any other I’ve ever taken. When I got to the room, one of my classmates was holding up a sign she’d made. It read, “We Overcame!”
The professor said the sign was a bit dramatic, but it was obvious he took at as a compliment.
When we were all settled in and ready to go, he sported an impish grin and said he was going to play the devil today and offer us some temptation.
The final was to be the majority of our overall grade. But we could opt out of it.
He made his way around the room with a yellow legal pad, privately showing each of us a letter grade. “If you want to skip the final, this is the grade I’ll give you…”
When it was my turn, he looked at me and considered for a couple of seconds. Then he scratched out a “B” on the pad.
I about fell out of my chair. I wasn’t sure how I was doing to be honest, so a B was better than I expected.
I didn’t take the offer. though. Nobody did. We had done some insane studying for that final and we were going to take the damn thing!
Leaving the room after taking a final was always one of my favorite moments of every class. At that point, I’d done everything I could do and it was time to let it go. Leaving that room was especially sweet.
I got an A in the class, incidentally. I think I was more proud of that A than any other. I don’t know for sure if my final answers were that great or the professor gave us “extra credit” for skipping the temptation. I suspect he was more interested in our working to learn than in our answers to the final. But the spectre of the final was the vehicle for motivation.
Next week, I’m expecting it to feel a lot like walking outside the door after taking a tough final. It’s time to just let go and focus on doing the best you can with whatever you’ve got to work with—specifically, working on your own business.
Next Week in Tarot
For outlook, we’ve got the Ten of Wands reversed, with advice showing up as the Eight of Pentacles from the lovely Star Tarot Deck.
It’s time to let go. If it’s not ours to worry about (or even if it is), it’s just time to release the sense of burden and responsibility for all that happens. Instead, our job is to just do the best we can with what we’ve got to work with.
We’re looking to improve, not solve. We’re looking to our own jobs, not anyone else’s jobs. Salvation isn’t coming in the form of the big picture here. Instead, we progress by working with the now, the details, giving full attention to the immediate, in-the-present-moment doing our best. Everything else sorts itself.
Just work your way through what is right in front of you and let the rest of the world (your world or the bigger world, doesn’t matter) sort itself. I’m not saying don’t care. You just express your cares here by how you live your own self. Yuo know? Your life is, in itself, the art you’re making.
If you want some help sorting it out, give me a holler and we’ll see about a one-on-one.