Freedom

We, as a society, are always planning our next move. We’re afraid to relax, lest we somehow fall off the network and be/have “less” than our cohort. (Western life, it seems, is permanent high school–who’s got what and who’s living better.) I haven’t been immune to the rush of the rat race. Since high school, I’ve plunged onward: undergrad, grad school, career in editing and college teaching.

I thought at the time that pursuing a fine arts degree was somehow more virtuous. After all, poetry is an avocation. It does not have monetary gain as an agenda. I was wrong. Poetry is a business, too, and the carrot dangling in front of me is prestige. Since receiving validation and acclaim in any artistic endeavor is nearly impossible, prestige that I sought needed a substitute: college teaching. It’s fulfilling, sure. As I’ve mentioned on this blog several times, I do find purpose in connecting with students by promoting critical thinking and cultural diversity. I’m in my element about 80% of the time. If academia wasn’t so bent on assessment and funding (and was sustainable), I’d continue to give it all of my energy. But as with anything, there are limitations.

Over the past year, I’d considered numerous life options after the semester ends. Relocation was priority. Where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing was yet to be determined. I had planned to job search heavily in March and April to see if the universe could help in determining my next step. I considered the east coast. I considered teaching abroad. I also considered going home to the Philippines for some substantial amount of time to clear my head, relax, write, travel. Last summer, when I took a month off to travel around the US by train, I felt 100% in my element. I felt the same when I visited home, Thailand, and Vietnam last year. When I’m stuck in routine mode, I sometimes look at my blog posts and photos from then to recall that freedom. I don’t want to stray too far from it.

In the last month, the winds have pushed me toward home. The intent is to focus on writing. I have a couple of poetry manuscripts to finish, and I’d like to get some nonfiction projects under way. While I don’t plan on being an itinerant forever, I can’t imagine anything better at this time. I’ve informed my deans/department chairs that I won’t be available in the fall. They’ve been supportive and offered to hire me again if I return.

Traveling, which equals freedom, is always the reward. Why can’t it be the process?

(March 2010. Near home.)
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