Inside Out

by Jinryu

রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর (Rabindranath Tagore):

Give me the strength never to disown the poor
Or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength
To raise my head high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength
To surrender my strength to Thy will with love.


7:45 AM, and uploading collaborative notes onto Google Drive for Administrative law.  It’s a 6 person team who are putting this project together.  I got some submissions this morning for the collaboration– it seems that more than a few people have been working through the night.  It’s a fearful thing, exams– but I like the fighting spirit that the group seems to have.

Working in a group is an interesting group dynamic– it’s very seldom that I get to work with people who are genuinely so dedicated to the cause.  I think that this is actually one of the first times where there are no freeloaders in a group!  It’s quite refreshing.  Of course, some people are still late with the substantive part of their contributions, but at least people are voicing guilt at being late.



This reminds me of a situation in South Korea, at the apartment building of my Korean teacher.  There was a notice in the elevator that I couldn’t read, so I asked her to explain what it meant.

“It’s a public shaming bulletin,” she explained.  “People who are late with rent or who do not put in towards the communal building maintenance, their names and apartment numbers show up on this list so that everyone in the building knows who is letting the building down.”



Guilt is an incredible thing, and I’m only recently starting to concretely realise connections between guilt and fear.  [Paladin] mentioned this a while back, when I was still having a lot of difficulty making the decision to come to Oz (henceforth, this shall be my abbreviation for “Australia”).


He basically reduced my inability to decide to two things– guilt at leaving family and friends behind, and fear of leaving family and friends behind.  And this is quite true– because in my big head, I always imagine that I’m someone important and irreplacable.

But perhaps, that’s all wrong.  The amazing thing about life as a human is our adaptability– our modularity.  We can unplug ourselves from one place and put ourselves somewhere else.  Sometimes that means we’re just another brick in the wall, sure, but it does mean that we can be parts of entirely different machineries and be part of entirely different movements.


When it comes to friends and family, I am irreplacable– nobody can do it exactly as I do it.  But am I necessary?  Do they need me as much as I need them?


A lot of life, and the pains of growing up, has to do with a tweaking of the perception of this power balance: who needs who.


I’m toying with this idea now that fear and guilt may be two sides of the same coin.  For example, on one hand, we fear being without that which makes us safe, or that which is familiar.  We fear being without people who will invest effort and love into us.  On the opposite end, we feel guilty for abandonning things and people that have accepted our investments of effort and love.


Fear and guilt don’t operate in a bi-polar sort of way, which I guess is what makes it particularly difficult to discern.  I mean, it even broke up Paladin’s and [Rawdy’s] initial attempts to get married– she’s a Muslim, he’s an atheist.  Enough said, perhaps?




Now that law school has finished as of yesterday, and all that’s left is about 6 days until exams, these emotions are starting to manifest all around me.


People are afraid that they’re going to do poorly.  People feel guilty for not working harder.  Or some derivative of this sort of thing.


I think I’m strange, in a way– because I don’t feel it.  I don’t feel this fear or this guilt, at least not as intensely as it seems that my peers are feeling it.

Instead, I take exams as an affront– perhaps it’s a way of channeling the traditional fear and guilt into agression, and treating it as a problem to be killed?  I dunno.  I’ve long stopped trying to figure out how hospital work has messed with my ability.

That said, the method I’m adopting has me in good spirits.  That doesn’t mean that I’ll ace the exams, but I’m going to go in there, ready to go tooth and nail.




But sometimes I wonder if having a bit more fear and guilt in everyday life might be good for me….?