Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Meanwhile in Champaign

I've been home a little more than six weeks now, but it feels much longer. I still think about Leuven every day. I miss it. Terribly.

Ladeuzeplein, mid-morning, Autumn.

Alexander Pope told us long ago in An Essay on Criticism that "A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing." Some people think this drives at the same idea behind "blissful ignorance". They might have an argument, too. While it's foolish to envy the ignorant, life might be a bit easier, on occasion, if everything was a bit more simple. If I never spent time abroad, I'd be more content back in America's Heartland. I wouldn't ache for last October, and I wouldn't daydream of morning bike rides through Haverlee.

The 'castle' at Haverlee. Though it's in the wrong country, it recalls my image of Austen's Pemberley.

Of course, anyone who argues the virtues of a sheltered life is an idiot in my book. Besides, Pope wasn't advocating a simple existence at all. Most people don't bother to go back and read what actually follows his famous line, but if they were to remove their heads from their asses, they'd discover something completely different. Pope was merely observing the naivete of youth and the ability of experience to dampen inspiration. He notes "In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts," while those who've already bought the tee shirt "tremble to survey/The growing Labours of the lengthen'd Way." If anything, Pope was telling us to embrace the irrational exuberance of unjaded youth and do crazy shit before we grow old and tired.

Anyway, do I miss Leuven so much? Yes. Would my current situation be easier to handle had I never gone? Probably. But I guess that's just the price I pay, and I'd pay it a million times over before I gave it all up. Besides, I have like 1,500 pictures to look through when I get bored.


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