Saturday, June 26, 2010

Carved Anew by the Details of your Devotions

It’s Mary Oliver’s thought. “You too can be carved anew by the details of your devotions.” And in fact, this is the plan. I have concerns about not getting everything done. But they aren’t the concerns of a flibbertygibbit who wanders from one thing to another, starting them all and finishing none. Not quite. Or not every day, anyway.

Many things languished during my ill-fated marriage. Love, certainly. But also attention to the house, attention to my professional goals, …well, you get the idea. To address this situation, you know by now that my goals have goals and that I have charts and mind maps and vision boards to prove it. I hope you know –I hope I know, come to that- that I am working on most of these neglected areas and that I have the rest waiting patiently in the queue. I’m relying on a hope that there is a psychic difference between “ignored” and “planned,” even though the reality feels the same at this particular moment.

I do wonder (worry is too strong a word) if my concerns are not sufficiently weighty. Can I be a scholarly expert on refugees and global homelessness if I spend all my public blogging time reporting about my house, or yoga, or the cats? Is that really where my attention is? Where’s the gravitas?

Well, first off, is it not possible to be simultaneously a serious scholar and light-hearted? Few are. I get it that I’m walking a weird path here. But I just don’t think I can maintain grave and serious across the lifespan of a career. Well, I know I can’t. But I also know that I have something to contribute. So, stipulating that I know how to behave in public places, can’t it be true that I am fundamentally unimpressed with much of the academic posturing I see and still be serious? Light-hearted is not the same thing as air-headed. I want to carve that path, and have that path carve me.

More importantly, though, I don’t think it’s an indication of flightiness that I am spending so much time thinking about my house and gardens and yoga and cats. These are also things that anchor a life. They are things that root a life in a place and a time. And they shelter me. I lost safety –not the way the people I study have, heaven knows- but that loss jerked my life into a new path. Feathering my own nest, tending to its structure and stability, remind me that I am creating my own safety. (As much as anyone can, that is.)

When I get frazzled and a little unhinged (and it happens, and not just to me, I remind myself), well-meaning people advise me to slow down. Do less. Well, first of all, I’ll obsess about however much work is in front of me -no matter how slight-, so slowing down won’t really help the stated problem. Moreover, if I do less, then I won’t get everything done. A lifetime is not enough.

So, I really am looking at this mission expansion idea.

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

Life has many dimensions, and to live it richly, you need to live in many dimensions at the same time. Why does one need to be a serious scholar? And since when does paying attention to other, more immediate or sensual aspects of life detract from one's scholarliness? (Is that a word? :P)