Times of transition and new beginnings offer space for reflection. I've been sifting through research done a decade ago as I rewrite my dissertation proposal for the coming school year. I'm amazed at how lucid my thinking was and how my current goals are simply extensions of the stories I've been wanting to tell since I began teaching--allowing the voices of students to speak for themselves and offer insight.
A decade ago, I wrote about my experience teaching on the Navajo reservation: "I watched myself change. It will take some time to recover, but when I do I will be stronger than I ever thought possible. I have been furious, I have been sad, but I have also felt triumphant and cried from happiness."
It appears that my biggest moments of growth occur when I am forced to confront truly incongruous ideas and ideals. The conflict, for me, offers up insight that I couldn't come to in any other way.
This mirrors my experience with marriage and divorce. I will carry the experience with me into my future. It informs who I am and how I live. I have emerged, however, with an even stronger clarity about life, love, and myself than I thought possible. A year has passed, but it's been one of those years when every week is a month. I said goodbye to my therapist last month, and she and I spent some time laughing about where I'd been: Remember the "this is all my fault" phase? Or, "here is where you finally got angry...I'd been waiting for that..." and "thank god, here's where you realized this wasn't about you..." And we recognized the fact that every single step was necessary to move forward intact. And the beauty is that when you process all of your shit as it surfaces, you get to emerge freely and fully. And you get to choose what informs your next move. The past doesn't own you; it just provides some really cool insight. I love my life.
And I love every bit of my past that informs who I am. I'm not proud of everything, but I wouldn't trade.
And I am reminded of an encounter I had with a young person, and one that reminds me that we are all magic...even when we forget it:
"I am a queen. Do you want to bow for me?" she asked.
I did and I will again, I am certain. She, at 3 feet 7 inches is the most imposing figure in the room.
"I am a cowboy now. Check it out." And she is: the swagger, head cocked to the left and eyes squinted for an ensuing gunfight.
"You are magic," I said.
"I know," she replied.
Hopefully, our past will always inform our present...
We are magic. And every step in life is making us more so. Every single one...even when it feels like a misstep. Here's to self-correction, to beauty, to recognizing the beauty in ourselves...and to allowing others to see it.