To wrap up our second SASAH class, our Professor (and SASAH Director) Joel Faflak asked us to think about what myths we live our lives by. After listening to him talk for over an hour in complete rapture – about the romantic poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelly, of all things – I found that the question definitely stuck in my mind.
The thing about Joel’s class is that he has this amazing, captivating way of speaking, and his passion is so evident in every word. For a science major who absolutely detested reading “A Defence of Poetry” because it was way over my head in its use of language and subtext, I found my opinion completely reversed. Within the space of an hour, my thoughts that it was flowery, melodramatic and frustrating to read became completely reversed. Suddenly, Shelly’s subliminal warnings that we need to take responsibility for our creations began to make a whole lot of sense. His potent ideas about Poets possessing knowledge of a future they won’t live to see suddenly became not over-dramatised, self-indulgent peddling, but progressive, incredibly well written philosophical arguments. I think I speak for everyone in the class when I say that we all gained a completely new regard for Shelly and poetry in general.
Therefore, after gaining an entirely new perspective on the subject (and honestly feeling quite small-minded in my previous opinions) when I was asked to think about what myth I live by, the question resonated with me in a way I’m not sure I could have understood before.
In my studies here at Western, I have gotten myself through every exam period, each stressful assignment and some pretty harsh grades on the belief that all the hard work will eventually pay off. I comfort myself with the knowledge that my degree will amount to more than just a nice pay-cheque at the month’s end, and that I will leave a lasting impact in my field, and yet I know that to be all in blind faith. Faith in my abilities, or the growing field of genetics, perhaps, but nevertheless a myth I have constructed to suit my needs. Through being confronted with the works of a Romantic Poet struggling to find a place for his craft in the new industrialised world, I was forced to re-evaluate so many of my own beliefs and priorities. Nothing is every final until after you’ve finished it, and the only way to get yourself through in the meantime is to keep up the faith that it will all work out in the end. I chose to tell myself that I will contribute vital discoveries through my application of the humanities to genetics, because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to cope with the stress.
In the end, I am no poet, and I can’t see into the future. However, for now, I will work my hardest every day to make my dreams a reality, and if my myth keeps me motivated, then so be it.