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Eva Batalla-Mann | Valuable Delusions

Home to Hellos

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 08:01

The semester is in full swing and it’s hard to think that a little over a week ago I was in the sunny, tucked away whistle-stop town of Ojai, Calif. Coming back to Tufts after being home for a while is always a little bit of a culture shock. Returning home to hellos from every passerby, and drum circles in the park on Sundays accompanied by robust dancing, reminds me that there are places where the pace of life slows down compared to caffeine-fueled college life. Sometimes I forget. I forget what it’s like to sit and read a book for hours in Ojai Coffee Roasting Co. while familiar faces come and go. 

A recent development to that practice was looking over to the next table to see Jason Segel, with a copy of “Infinite Jest” proudly perched on his table, reading something on his iPad. Over break I took a drive past the numerous avocado trees, Jim’s tangerine orchard, our local turtle sanctuary and climbed up a steep and serpentine road to an outlook called Meditation Mount. I went to watch the sunset over my valley from the high vantage point, but when I got there I saw something even more beautiful than the sunset. I walked along the path to the lookout and saw still figures sitting all along the bright green grass. Some were sitting on blankets while others dug their toes into the earth. Families and friends all sitting together in meditation. It totally blew my mind. I had never really appreciated group meditation but the unity of that moment was pretty amazing. 

The dichotomy between home and school is a strange thing to experience, and the journey back and forth from California always causes me to consider it. I guess it becomes easy to live a double life instead of seeing how the things you experience in both places work toward making you a whole person. Hopefully those experiences don’t include accidentally crashing a West Hollywood AA meeting — I saw a conglomeration of hipsters on the sidewalk and assumed it was an art opening of sorts. Oops. I think I can now call both coasts home — although the lack of Mexican food ‘round these parts is a continuing struggle. Living in two worlds is exciting and rich but can also inspire a transient feeling and uncomfortable uncertainty. But if we have learned anything from our meditating friends up on the mountain, it is that uncertainty is really ok and everyone needs to calm down. Well, maybe I added that last part.

This past summer in San Francisco I went to the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the de Young Museum. Before I even stepped into the room housing his famous “Seawall” and “Figure on a Porch,” I saw an embossed wall with a title reading “Notes to myself on beginning a painting.” I stood there for an unnecessarily long time reading it several times over and straining my neck to see the words at the top. This list of Diebenkorn’s musings and suggestions starts with, “Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.” When I got back to school at the beginning of last year I immediately wrote it on a scrap of paper and put it on the wall above my desk. It reminds me that not knowing is ok. Not knowing who you are or what you want to do with the rest of your life is ok. And when it does come, value the delusion.


Eva Batalla-Mann is a sophomore majoring in peace and justice studies and community health. She can be reached at

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