I began this blog ages ago and over the years have not paid much attention to it. I change that now.
I was just writing a note to my love, and I thought of the long lost art of writing letters, particularly love letters. Right now, Seed is overseas doing work in digital storytelling with prisoners. He’s an amazing man who gives from this abundant source of love and light within him. It’s awe-inspiring to be around him, and I have the great gift of loving and being loved by him. How lucky I am, I sometimes think. How blessed I am.
In the past few months, I have felt more and more that way. From a very hard last few months with DODEA, an organization I loved, still adore and believe in, I have traveled back to the States, living on the West Coast, for a new adventure as an assistant professor of education at a small, private college. There is this gorgeous white chapel that rises upon an ever-green lawn. All the buildings are white washed with exposed beams of dark wood. It’s a gorgeous campus. I find myself often wondering if I belong here, how I came to be in this place, and if I am worthy of it. Why is that? I wouldn’t say that it’s humility. That’s a virture I aspire to have, but one that I work on as I work on patience. Why, then, do I question this beginning of a new journey? I am still trying to conceptualize what it means to be a professor. Who am I if I am to call myself that? How do I exhibit this identity to the world? How does a professor act and does this jibe with me? Can I fully invest in the academy and still critique it?
One of the things that truly plagued me with my work with DODEA was that I signed away my right to protest the government. The logic was there: as a federal employee how could I protest a system that I represented? I chafed at the loss of that privilege, which I find so important to the American identity. Here, as a member of the academy, that academic freedom is protected. The college encourages all professors to engage in conversations about just about every issue. It supports the work of professors in decision-making in the college, especially in reference to the academic content. With more and more K-12 districts relying on business personal to make curricular decisions and colleges and universities following suit, it’s liberating to think about the power of the academy in making curricular decisions that may influence the critical inquiry of generations. It’s also comes with a heavy consideration. Am I worthy of that responsibility? I am trying to be.
There is a man who loves me. I love this man. We are both invested in service to others, whether through the arts or education or through endeavoring to engage in community organizing and social justice initiatives. Where does this all fit? Am I worthy of alll these blessings? I ask myself questions.
When I was in my teens, I retreated from mirrors in an effort to fight vanity. Like most teenagers, I would try a new look this day and another the next. I would spend hours primping for a dance. Perhaps it was a religion class that caused me to consider my vanity, but I think it was a remnant of a book I read on Benjamin Franklin and his practice of keeping a journal. In his journal, he would list his virtues and vices and chart how he had done each day. I realized that if I were to chart vanity, it would increase exponentially … so I limited my mirror contact. For years, the only mirrors I ever had were in bathrooms as they generally come with apartments. I would get dressed quickly so as to, again, conquer my vanity, focusing on the actions of the day rather than my appearance within them. The other side of vanity, though, is reflection. Looking in the mirror can be an act of looking for physical appearance or it can be a philosophical or spiritual journey into the inner life of a person. I think that when I put the physical object aside, I made reflection my inner mirror. Am I worthy? What does this new identity mean? What is my place within it?
I am asking myself questions.
I do not have any answers.