I remember sitting in a café in Berkeley days before my 25th birthday contemplating this significant milestone. I had purchased a beautiful new journal with two goddess-like figures on it, dancing in the air with their wings outstretched, hands embracing in a big circle. On page one I wrote,
The two almost identical-looking women on the cover of my nth journal are me and myself. They beg me to unite, to complete and to express. To live.
As I write today, I have similar thoughts running through my head. This morning I taught my last class at MCC as a full-time Spanish instructor, thirteen years after having taught my first. As I ponder the unknown future, wondering in which baskets I should place my eggs, I have a similar desire to unite those aspects of me that seem fragmented and torn and to make this, above all else, my top priority.
I’m being careful not to fill my future free time with busyness and commitments, for I truly believe I have important work to do. This unification process I hinted at years ago was shortly thereafter complicated with meeting my future spouse, engagement, pregnancy, my first university teaching job, first home, marriage, first baby, second baby, third baby and a few of my husband’s job changes sprinkled in for good flavor. For so many years I’ve felt like I am treading furiously to keep my head above the water, but now it’s time for me to pick up those contemplative reigns again, but from a wiser and more stable place than when I was 25.
The peace I feel presently hasn’t been here every moment of every day since I e-mailed my resignation letter a few months ago. No, there have been intense hours of doubt and worry. As a quick student of society and culture, I learned early, hard and deep that the world in which I live values productivity above all else, and I’ve held myself to this standard since almost as far back as I remember. So, why I am stripping myself of a concrete identity outside that of my relations to the men in my home? Why am I shaking off a paycheck and the reassurance that I am doing something valued by society? Why am I shedding my attachment to one of the biggest institutions in my community?
Because I am pulled very hard to do so. I am pulled to come back to that unfinished business of unifying myself that I wrote of in the Berkeley café. I am pulled to develop the feminine, to be less rushed and scheduled. I am pulled to be more nurturing, less proving myself; more reflective, less productive. I am pulled to trust that my creative juices need a little break from assigning grades and using words like outcomes and assessments and to trust that it’s okay to rest, enjoy and rely upon the universe to provide. I am pulled to trust that not being a part of a giant institution will be liberating. I am pulled to develop trust that I will be okay even if I’m not being stamped with approval from an outside party. I am pulled to trust that I will not lose the race, should I step off the treadmill for a bit to simply sit, breathe and reflect. I am realizing more and more that there really is no race.
Those days when I feel the ingrained masculine and competitive pull to measure my worth with my daily check list of accomplishments, may I count the smiles given, hugs received, conversations enjoyed, flowers arranged, nature noticed, coffees shared and meals celebrated. May I count the number of times I look deeply into the eyes of another and they look deeply into mine, may I take note of the wisdom I gain and the new skills I practice as I learn to soften and simply be.
May I be proud to say I resigned not only so that I could rest and be more present for myself and for my family, but also so that I could relax into myself, allowing the many parts of me to unify, to be come less fragmented, and to allow the space between who I am and who I want to be to shrink. My intention for the next little while is to let the edges of those two beings soften, blur and merge, to slowly learn to trust that I have nothing to prove.