Sunday, August 21, 2011

And the shadow of the day ...

I spent most of the week at a mentoring seminar, learning how to support the development of young teachers.

The key point of the seminar was to support their development into an independent person who can self-reflect and rely on his/her own assessments without relying on external self-validation. And the way you do that is by not giving them feedback, or validation for that matter, but slowly guiding them to rely on their own best judgement, just helping them see the whole picture, if they are missing some pieces. A lot like cognitive therapy, actually.

It did drive a few points home regarding my personal life - as there, I often tend to try to affirm and help my friends as best I can - often to very bad effect, as people prefer to be able to do things independently, and feel this help is constraining them. I had realized this was the case a few weeks ago, but the seminar helped me understand the mechanics better.

The restlessness discussed in the last post still follows me. I went to the seminar with barely 4 hrs of sleep at night - and still had trouble getting to bed in the evening, managing it only after a walk along the deserted night beach. The seminar was held in Narva-Jõesuu, which has 12 km of truly amazing shoreline, about 2 of which I walked that night.

The next day when I woke up, my roommate (who had missed the first day) had arrived in the night, and as he turned out to be from the IT college, the next night was spent with him discussing different aspects of CS education and how our institutions differ. It went til 4 a clock, again giving us just 4 and a half hours of sleep.

Next night I left so I could be in Tallinn to see the Dalai Lama talk in front of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. As I had to meet two of my friends in the morning before the talk, the night was again pretty short - 6 hrs, maybe. The 4 hr bus ride was unforgettable, as the sun was slowly setting across the picturesque landscape of North-East Estonia.

The talk itself was somewhat dissapointing. After the troubles of getting my friends in (their names had not been passed along), we got a back row seat and got only a fleeting glimpse of the spirutal leader. The talk was on buddhisms connection with sciences, and the questions were pretty standard and seemed mainly meant just to show off the intelligence of the asker. And in the end, the man was just escorted away, without the informal questions part we initially thought would follow.

The main thing I will remmember from the day is meeting Nirti, a young blogger and writer who I had actually invited myself via a proxy, but whom I had only exchanged a short e-mail with before. Me, Mart and Kristiina went to lunch with her, and the four of us clicked pretty well. Kristiina left at some point, then Mart had to go to the train and in the end it was just the two of us walking towards the bus station, sharing stories from our youth.

After yet another 4 hrs in the bus, I was back at the Spa with my Seminar group - who had postponed dinner for an hour so that I arrived just in time. We then convened in the Piano bar downstairs, when one of the group started playing Valgre on the piano, while the others just sat and listened in awe - later joining in to sing the more famous songs.

Not a day I will forget any time soon - and I dare say not because but rather in spite of the Lama.

Saturday was also fairly interesting, as a physicist friend of mine invited me along with his family to what (to both of our surprise) turned out to be the birthday party of two people - one a car salesman and another a photographer. There was a very nice russian girl with very well-cared dreadlocks, who took it upon herself to fix my hair up as well - and spent quite a few hours at it. This gave us ample time to talk. She had done many different things - acting, project writing, playing keyboards in a heavy metal group, fire shows (one of which she performed later in the evening, with Poi and fans) etc. Im only a bit sad I did not get to repay her the favor for fixing my hair. I also had quite a long discussion with the physicist friend about the meaning of a good life, and how to get there.

And now - I am at a CS summer school with my colleagues. Tired from the week behind me, and with quite a bit on my mind that just needs quiet contemplation. I hope they will understand me staying a bit more quiet and reserved than usual.
Then again - I have no clue what my usual really is anymore. There are months where I can't stand to be alone, and now it seems there seem to be weeks where I need to. Only time will tell what the equilibrium will look like or rather, whether it will actually settle down at all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


For the third day in a row, I am struck with a strange restlessness. A feeling of needing to do something, but being unable to figure out what.

So I go. Outside. Staff-twirling, reading, biking, walking the streets. None of them works.

Everything is so, so wrong. And yet, the most right it has ever been. In its proper place, yet so out of it.

Again, I guess this is what it feels to be too much ahead of yourself.