A few years ago, when I was having a particularly rough time, a friend of mine — who has often seemed more like a guide — spoke to me in a parable. Come to think of it, he didn’t actually tell me the parable; he simply suggested that I might benefit from tracking down and reading some of C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I set out to find the book at a library. Upon finding the book, I glanced through it until I found the part during which one of the book’s main characters — a boy named Eustace — wandered off from his siblings. Alone, he encountered a dying dragon. He got a thrill out of seeing how close he could get to the dragon, even touching it. He had, after all, “read only the wrong books.” As such, he drank from the dragon’s pool of water; he played with the dragon’s treasure, and he tried on the dragon’s jewelry. Eventually, he fell asleep in the dragon’s cave.
A few years ago, I went through an epic psychological battle about whether or not I could step back into school mode and live off assistantship wages. I decided that yes, I could, and I am now heading into year five of making less than $15,000 a year. It definitely takes its toll, and like the U.S. government that we know and love so well, I am forced to either crash and burn financially or to dramatically reign in my spending.