Saturday, January 21, 2012

Life is about tests

(... in the style of a Meredith Grey voiceover*.)

Sometimes (pregnant pause), life is about tests.

There are the tests you know you are taking, that you can prepare for. These last two weeks I had quite a few of those. In statistics, micro and cell biology, and environmental management. They are tests in the literal sense of the word. They evoke cramming and late nights or early mornings and stress. And relief when they are finished. Afterwards you get a grade that makes you smile or wince and has some kind of effect on your future. Or not. Or not as much as you thought, when you look back years later.

Then there are tests we all take, students or not, every day. But they are trickier because in fact they aren't official and there's no one egging you on to do well. Except yourself, or your conscience. Like driving. Do I switch gears now, do I let that other driver in, do I proceed into the intersection now or a few seconds later? A multitude of small decisions that may seem small but could have major, lasting effects on our lives and those of others. Who's to say these "tests" aren't more important than the written ones that we make notecards for? They are, in fact, more important. But we don't always see it that way at the time.

And even more subtle but perhaps the trickiest of all are those moments when others test us- test our conscience or patience. Like when Juliette woke up way too early from her nap on an afternoon when I really needed to study for an official test. And I found myself getting irritated despite my efforts to smile and be sweet and cuddly to her while she rotated around my study corner. We are tested, we are pushed, and we must rise above our irritation and prioritize (child over homework). And sometimes we fail and we grumble and rumble and we regret it. And we hope we'll do better next time.

Maybe the real test in life is just that: deciding which tests are really important to pass and which ones we can forget about. And that's something you won't learn in any school book.

*As far as TV voiceovers go, Grey's Anatomy is not so bad. Slightly sappy but rather insightful. It comes in number two on my official voiceover ranking.

Desperate Housewives gets third place. I always feel like I'm having a children's book read to me. Enough already with the heavily emphasized "yes..." or "indeed" before every other statement. But sometimes trite stuff rings true.

But my all-time favorite voice-over sequence was from Glee when Wil and Coach Sue have a fight in their voiceover. TV genius!


Lindle said...

Very thoughtful piece here.

I agree, maybe the most important test is deciding which tests in life are worth attending. I think anything involving loved ones trumps the others. A paper to write, or an upcoming interview are nothing when your child is running a high fever. That's all that matters. Isn't there that cliche about how we approach life's challenges that shows our true character? We all have to learn to laugh some of this seriousness away.

Crystal said...

A great post (as usual) and I really enjoy reading your more 'introspective' posts.

I think that people (and myself) tend to mistake tests for worry though. Being worried about anything and everything (ie. do I go through the intersection or not...?) makes us believe that the world is always against us and testing us, when really we are just putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to do things (ie. driving) that normal, non-anxious people do every day without thinking twice. Does that make sense?

I firmly believe that life tests us in many ways, but I've come to realize that people with an anxious personality (like myself) view just about everything in life as a test when it really isn't! It's time to chill out and take things as they come :)

Jenenz said...

Just like which battles are worth fighting and which to let go. There are bigger fish to fry out there. Don't sweat the small stuff.

A little piece of dark chocolate may help to put it all in perspective.

Chad said...

I always enjoyed the Scrubs voice overs. They had moments of being a little too sappy, but overall were quite good, especially for a "comedy".