When I open the book—Nicholas Love’s The Mirror of Jesus Christ—to resume reading for my special fields exams in the fall, I start to hyperventilate. My chest tightens and I feel an incredible sense of panic. I need to take another day off, or a week. I haven’t been taking care of myself, telling myself that I’ll “have time” to re-centre, to relax, after the hard work is done in the fall. But the truth is that it will never be done in the way that I imagine. I will always have more work to do. I have been going at a pace that has been unsustainable—every book I finish has only made me feel more panicked, more like the project is slipping through my fingers, like I won’t know what to say when the time comes. Even though I have had many ideas and I know I will I find the words once the questions have been posed (it’s perhaps only that they have not been posed, that they could be anything, the absolute quality that they embody, which is what is so unsettling to me). When it’s done, I know I’ll have entered into the stage of my studies that I’ve been waiting for all along, that (as long as I do not face needless obstruction) should be more-or-less smooth sailing… 

Even now, writing about it, though I’m only moving laterally, certainly not doing anything even close to the thing itself, only sitting in a pleasant, quiet room with Rachel sitting next to me and one of my fields texts at my feet—I feel close to breaking down, like a neurotic nineteenth century intellectual with frayed nerves, recently prescribed three months vacation at a hot spring. That amount of time (three months) represents an impossible luxury that in no sense of the word could I afford. And yet—it also seems like, perhaps, the only potential solution, maybe because it happens to be the one that’s so far out of my reach.

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