Monday, April 23, 2018
Unlike the others out there doing what it is you are trying to do, you do not have the entourage of guidance: the faculty support, connections to the publishing world, friendly editors who have groomed and polished your work to a high shine. Yours is more the path of the the underdog, with good hearts giving you a pat on the back as you lumber past through the tangle of confusion and thick underbrush. Although it feels that way, you are not alone. You just did not get the easy pass in this life. You have to learn to ask for and accept help in whatever form it comes. The life line is there, but you have to pick it up and throw it out. Whether or not someone finds it is another story.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
It rests there: a smoking, wrecked ruin. But you are there to see it, at least. You think you should care a bit more that it crashed and burned, but you are so tired that you can't think about it, much less feel anything yet. Before this result, you actually thought it might work, magical thinking that you have been so good at. You didn't listen to the voices that told you how wrong you were in your hopes. You trusted that, somehow, it would turn out, that you would find the reciprocity you imagined. Oh well... you did what you could. Your mistake was that you never learned how to dance left-footed, legally blind, almost deaf, one hand tied behind your back.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Without people, there would be nothing to reel me in from my musing. By people, I mean obligations, responsibilities -- extrinsic reasons for leaving the land of freely-associated ruminations. I would linger here in my introversion like a balloon batted around by air currents. Of course, if there were no people, I'd have to do my own digging of roots and stalking of mastodons to survive. Ruminating is a kind of civilized luxury, an act possible because of discretionary time and resources. So, I guess I should grateful when pulled out of my thoughts by what it is I need to do to teach, to earn my three hots and flop. But time, sweet time. Without it, I am paralyzed by lack. With it, I paralyzed by possibility.
So, my dear, tired wanderer, you are sad about how things have turned out. That is one way to respond to how you have been perceived by others. And you know that the key to the future rests in aligning your hands, your heart, your mind, with your actions. Your actions. Actions, you must remember, work the alchemical laws of how your life will proceed from here. The veil in front of you, keeping you from creating the life you want, can be pierced only by courage, love, and passion made visible by what you do. It is the way of things. You must calm your fears, quiet the voices that say no, find your serene, vibrant source that does not fear death, place your foot firmly on the base of that foundation, and then take that first step. If you can breathe, you will soon find yourself running, and the world will swirl around you, now a cascading river of light.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Today, after four hours of teaching, I will attend the University of Arizona Service Luncheon. One gets invited to this lunch on "milestone" years of service: ten, fifteen, twenty, and on. My milestone year is twenty. That is twenty full-time years here at the UA. I also have four years of service at ASU, three years in Tucson Unified School District, several years teaching in Mexico and Ecuador, nine years as a grad-student TA, a year teaching Adult Basic Education and ESL in the prison, and some odd tutoring gigs. All in all, I have been teaching for a living for thirty-six years. But today, I mark the last twenty here at the UA. I get to tuck them under my belt, file them away, take one last look around before I turn toward the door, the one that opens onto what happens next.
They were in my dreams again last night. My students, that is. They were there, waiting for what it was I, we, were going to do. I threw the curriculum out the window, so to speak (there are no windows in the basement classroom in which we meet), and said "Write what you feel and think about something important to you." Magically, we all got to work and began to have a real conversation. Oh, it messy, chaotic, and garbled, but something was happening. Students were up out of their desks, reading to each other, talking, laughing, having heart-to-hearts. I felt blood rush back into my extremities, felt tension drain out my hands, felt my brain spark with small flashes of lightning. I said, "Pick your genre; no, mix them. First a response, then an analysis, then a synthesis of the two: right and left brains, emotions and thought, heart and head. Tell a story. Let your words be the basis for action you dream of taking in the world. Work on our own; work together." It was a mess, I say, a tangled, glowing, beginning of something that would never be fully resolved. But we were on our way. The honor way.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
It's not just about merit. Definitely not about merit. Politics and membership have more to do with it. Some get let through the fence keeping them down and out while others, no matter what they do, get blocked again and again. I happen to be one of those who didn't make it for some reason. Sure, I had an OK run at some small successes, but they were all pretty bush-league. It could have something to do with the MFA Mafia. That's a tight-knit tribe that watches the score closely and takes you out if they don't like you. Or it could be fashion. I just didn't make the right moves at the right time. Or it could be work. Honestly I didn't work as hard I as I could have. Part of that was due to fear, and the belief that I didn't deserve success. Whatever it was, the game is over and I lost. That's a hard pill to swallow. I don't feel so bad for me -- my ego -- but I do feel some shame for not having given light to the gifts burning inside me. That one stings.