This morning I sat at my desk thinking about the bewildered and hopeful faces of young freshmen wandering through the campus, and faculty rested and refueled after a summer of travels, family time or, perhaps, research and writings. I suppose it should not seem strange at the end of a busy summer, as the skies cloud up and a hint of fall is in the air, that I should feel a sense of renewal. After all, that should come with the spring, surely? Having hibernated and drawn oneself within, there is such a blossoming outwards and upwards in those glorious spring months of April and May. And yet, renewal is in the air for me these days. Not just because a new semester and academic year has begun.
The renewal seems within me at a deep, personal level. The external features or characteristics of my life have not changed in any significant way. We are settled in our new home, the garden is flourishing, and work is pretty much the same as it has been these past few years as head of a teacher education department. Professional aspirations and ambitions seem to have balanced out to an even, comfortable keel, and I quite enjoy what I do.
The change is felt as a shift within me. A slightly different way of perceiving myself. More peaceful, accepting, less fearful, less needy for external acknowledgement or validation. Mostly, though, I am feeling less to blame for everything and everyone. It is as though I have climbed out of an abyss and reaching towards the top there is a gentle light – compassionate and soft – that beckons and welcomes me to a different world, a kinder reality about my Self.
It manifests itself in different ways. For example, feeling more comfortable in certain people's presence- especially those with whom I felt anxiety in the past. Or, observing more keenly – becoming more aware about how other people's behaviors are not about me, and that I am not the cause for them to react in the ways they do. At times I have more ease knowing what I desire or need. Being alone does not feel lonely any more. And, I must admit, I am embracing my age more graciously – no longer starting with fright at my older self reflection in the mirror – even smiling at the odd aches and pains that rise up unexpectedly to greet me.
It is a strange sensation, unknown territory for me. I navigate it carefully cherishing each moment as I become more aware of the changes in me, for I have no idea where they will lead me. That in itself is a shift too. For, I do not feel as anxious to know where I will end up.
I think I will just hobble along as the shifts change and changes shift, and hope that when I arrive, I will know that place – almost – for the first time …