I am slowly becoming Darth Vader.
It’s not just that I knocked my teeth out in a bicycling accident and had to replace them with titanium implants. It’s not the molar fillings, either. It’s not even that both my tonsils and appendix have been extruded and incinerated, my body complete no more. It’s more than that.
Every year the Force gets a little weaker. The Dark Side pulls a bit stronger, whispering to me from my bedside: “You don’t know what you’re doing,” when I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m a little more uncertain about the golden path I used to imagine was my future and I trust the efficacy of my happy space-ship (this humanities degree) decreasingly with time.
It all started when I was 22, had returned from travelling around the world and decided that it was time to get a proper education (much to my mom’s supreme relief). I tried for Ryerson’s photography program, was admitted, and enrolled. Three weeks in I realized there was no way that I was going to become a photographer, let alone finish the degree. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my camera anymore or the 4×5, and I enjoyed spending my days in the darkroom. I just knew that photography wasn’t where I wanted to be professionally, and it was school that allowed me to make that differentiation.
So at the end of the year I switched programs, applying to U of T and registering in Arts and Science, with an interest in pursuing history. All went blissfully well for three years, my head filled with terra cotta dreams of grad school and a long life spent deep in dusty archives, reading long-forgotten texts from behind circular bifocals. But it was this year, the last year of my degree, that a voice started to nag.
“Come hither,” it would say, beckoning me to the other side. “Look what I can offer you: a B. Sc. One more year at U of T, and this future could all be yours. Come with me, Mary. You cannot escape your destiny.” The Dark Side has a way of calling, an enticement hard to resist.
I admit that it’s partially the imminent reality of getting out of school that has led me to consider staying at U of T one final year. I also love my science classes, which when trying to convince myself to get out of school, has proved a disadvantage. Simultaneously, however, there is also a contradictory fear, the fear of never making up my mind, that shouts at me to simply accept my degree, stick it on my wall, and move on to other more diverse galactic battles. Meanwhile my mom, who bugged me for years to get into school, now phones me the odd evening. “Get out of there!” she bosses, like she can’t remember ever thinking any other way.
Futures are tricky beasts, murky places. A few people know exactly what they want to do in life and how they mean to get there, but I don’t think they’re the majority. Most of us have to make pretty big decisions without the prescience necessary to know if we’re doing the right thing. You just can’t trust the Force so much as you get older.
Some days I think it would’ve been easier to have simply stuck it out at Ryerson. I would have graduated by now, could be working, making money, be well on my way to living that adult life. But then that life materializes in my mind, and it is a continuous reality in which I do not love the part I play.
In retrospect, at 80 (with a head fully replaced by black tin), I will probably realize that the choices I’m making now are not as big as they seem. I am getting older, I do have relatives pestering me to graduate, but in the end, it is only one more year; a brief interlude by the end of the saga, and one that holds a whole new host of potential futures, of fantastic destinies.