Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Losing "Yourselves"



I spent the day watching various strains of bullshit arise in my mind, and then fade away. A few times, I got hooked into it, but that only lasted a couple of minutes at most. I have had this dual - or what feels like dual - experience going on over the past week or so. Various things in my life seem to either be unraveling, or are being revealed as relics in need of letting go. Some of it is job related, some relationship related, and some even related to writing.

To the fellow bloggers I interviewed last winter, both drafts of the article I wrote for Tricycle were rejected. The second rejection came a few days ago. I intend to submit it elsewhere, and will publish sections of the first article on here when I get around to it.

The article rejection came on the heels of a non-interview call from a prospective employer I thought I had a good shot at getting hired by. I was fooled by a general e-mail they sent out telling candidates they were about to set interview dates, and would get back to us.

About a month and a half ago, I was midway through an interview with another prospective interview - one that was going well and seemed equally promising - when I brought up the fact I didn't own a car. I figured given that it was a community gardening organization focused on eco-friendly urban environments, that such an admission would maybe even be a plus, showing some commitment to what I preach. The
job was mostly in an office anyway, and didn't seem to require much outside travel, and all the travel was in the city anyway, all pretty easily accessible by bus. The director ended the interview two minutes after I said "I don't drive."

So, there's this identity thing going on. The tugs of how I have lived, and how I want to live, and how I have probably hung too tightly to certain narratives and ways of acting in the world.

I had a meeting today with the new director at my workplace. Things will be changing there no doubt. Things are already changing there actually. I can feel it, even as the residue of the previous two plus years of fighting, struggling, arguing, bitching, and surviving live on. I shared a little bit of that with the new director, mostly because he asked for it - for an honest assessment of what has been going on from my perspective.

At the same time, I was listening to his responses. The ways in which he both agreed with me and disagreed with me, sometimes simultaneously. It was kind of fascinating to just experience the whole thing - I barely got the words "Expect for this year, we have mostly met our standardized test goals" out of my mouth, and he shot back "No, we didn't. Don't tell me we did because we didn't." And I sat with that about ten seconds before saying "And how do our scores compare with the other schools?" And his tone became a little more quizzical, even as he stuck to the idea that we needed to be more "accountable" as an organization.

We could have been talking about anything - apples, terrorists, the price of printer ink cartridges - but the repetition of the whole accountability issue stood out for me, as it's one of the main reasons I've lost passion for the work I'm doing. More and more, the emphasis is on making sure whatever collective of outside forces (government agencies, wealthy foundations, and hotshot individual donors) are pleased, that they feel like the money is being spent "wisely." I used to think I might have some positive impact on this conversation. Maybe even make some political impact on some of these issues. Now, after about 12 years volunteering and working in this field (adult basic education), I'm just ready to move on.

So, it was totally interesting to be in the middle of what could have been a heated conversation and being able to see that I had the choice to speak or be silent, and also the choice to defend or let pass any given statement he or I said. There was a pause available in other words, one I don't think I often felt in the past at work.

The same, for some reason, has been present as my relationship with my girlfriend has seemed to unravel. I've experienced plenty of sadness, longing, and some anger even over the past three or four days, and yet almost parallel to this has been this calmness that no matter what, things will be alright.

I'm honestly not terribly happy that all this stuff is happening one thing after the other. In fact, it kind of feels like a lot of who I have been is sort of tumbling down a hill, very intent on getting to the bottom as quickly as possible. I can feel the fear around this experience, not really knowing what it means in terms of the future. And yet, why wouldn't there be fear? If anything is universal, it's fear.

And love -
but unlike fear,
the mind has a certain investment in love
that must be watched over
by the heart
again and again.


*Van Gogh's self portraits seem particularly apt for illustrating this discussion.

7 comments:

Petteri Sulonen said...

"There is a pause available..." That's insightful. I'll have to look harder for that pause in my life as well.

Also, I think that sometimes it is okay to just go "FUCK THE WORLD! WHY ME?!?!" for a bit. But that's probably just me being un-Buddhist (it's been happening lately).

I wish you strength, patience, and courage. They help in fresh starts. The good thing is, the fresh starts happen even if you run out.

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

it is what it is. sometimes it's bullshit, sometimes it's ice cream, and sometimes it's ice cream with bullshit jimmies on top.

Nathan said...

Thanks Petteri. And you know, it might be just fine (i.e. not unBuddhist) to scream a little bit.

Was Once said...

Nathan,
There is a tendency to think your 'shit' will keep amounting to pile so huge you can then just say I can't climb it. Everyone does this, me as well...I find it helpful to begin to not take myself so seriously and laugh start laughing at it all. Plus laughing at a difficult moment takes the punch out of it.

Nathan said...

Thanks Was Once. I'm hanging in there. I had a good laugh with my students today in class. Definitely was helpful.

Algernon said...

At times like this, the image that comes to my mind is of rocks moving around or shifting underfoot. Sometimes it's a just a rock or two, and at other times -- like this period for you -- it's like walking around in an earthquake.

Tread softly and steadily!

Nathan said...

Thanks Algernon.