I’ve experienced a range of emotions in the months following the decision to step down from a tenure-track teaching position to pursue my art career and start a family.
Early on I found myself more blindly optimistic, cheerfully quipping “this new path has so many opportunities for growth” and “I’m so excited to see where this journey will take me”. However, as the days progress I find myself internally freaking out more and more.
When questions like “have you figured out what you want to do yet” come up, I rarely feel my responses are what they should be. It’s been two months – I feel as though these answers should be clearer now.
But, I don’t.
Despite this, today is a day of several fresh starts. Today is the start of my first official semester as a part time (fully online) Instructor as well as the date of the first total solar eclipse happening in my lifetime. Additionally, today is the date I set for myself to start my new studio practice “schedule” – one that I designed around the loose and tentative hold I have on my creative aspirations and my online teaching obligations.
As I laid in the sunny glow of my bedroom window this morning I realized that the alignment of these three events could be perceived as rather auspicious and meaningful.
There have been multiple times in my life when I would have felt as though this convergence was some type of sign. I would have relished the idea that I was part of some grand plan (having been smiled on favorably or noted as worthy) and that this cosmic path was somehow meant just for me.
My younger self – the girl who’d stay up at New Years Eve and fill in the second boxes on hand drawn count-down clocks in her journal with the hope that (if performed perfectly) the next year would be the year – would possibly punch my current self for not flipping out a little more about all of this.
Perhaps it is not too strange that feelings of trepidation and unease feel more at home in the pit of my stomach today rather than excitement or “unbridled enthusiasm” as countless generations and societies before me have found themselves with similar emotions at the time of an eclipse.
While falling asleep last night I scrolled through stories of serpents battling over moon spirits and dragons consuming the sun – all foreboding omens of apocalyptic futures. Hindsight reveals many of these fears unfounded and like my ancestors, I know that my own anxieties about the shape of things to come will be equally so.
Unavoidable moments of uncertainty, like totality, will soon pass and the normal state of being will once again resume… as it always has and always will. I have not been singled out by the gods or blessed with some singular gift.
The path forward is not so much a path as it is a trail – a trail that’s been worn smooth by those who journeyed on before me. I can only hope their ghosts will keep me company as I place one foot in front of the other and learn to listen more.
In this totality, I am just a woman standing still – breath held, while her future and past align in a moment of shadowy discomfort that will slowly and all too quickly be replaced with light once again.