Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Change of View

I didn't take this picture, obviously, and the trees in Golden currently don't have leaves on them (stupid trees; stupid leaves). Bright gray clouds have rolled in over the foothills, too, and are threatening snow (stupid snow; stupid winter). But this is basically what I see when I look outside my office window--my university's big M on a hillside. Ownership of the land, domination of nature, school pride, historical landmarks, all that jazz.

There are usually fools launching themselves off of that particular mountain, using paragliders and parasails and parawhatevers to land into our football field. I like to watch them sashaying in the wind as they descend, and I always hold my breath a bit until they've made it down safely.

This could also be a metaphor for a lot of the student writing I have to grade, but that's for another post.

I moved my desk the other day so that I could look out this window at work. Why in the world didn't I do this years ago? I don't love having my back to my open office door, which is required to face out the window, but on the other hand I seem to be getting interrupted less, so maybe that's okay, too. Most importantly, I can be in the sun while checking email. I can look up from stacks of paper and breathe a bit deeper.

I made official my resignation as managing editor of that journal I used to work for. I'm slowly wending my way through projects and thinking about which I really want to do, and how to make ones I am not totally sure about more my own. I feel so much happier and lighter, stronger and more myself. It's scary to turn down what seem like opportunities--after all, grasping at opportunities has made a lot of things happen for me. But it wasn't working for me anymore, doing other people's work, fitting into other people's projects. The anxiety over achieving has waned, and I need to find some other form of motivation. So now I'm trying out some things of my own--still working with others, but more on my terms. It's easier to say no to side streets and dark alleys when your own path forward is clear.

All this crystallized for me while reading Po Bronson's amazing book What Should I Do with My Life? I stumbled on it at the thrift store last week (thank you, universe, you serendipitous mofo) and it has answered so many questions for me about how to reinvigorate myself around work. I can't recommend it enough.

Speaking of literary type things, I've posted this on the blog before, and it's been taped to my printer all these years since I've been writing here, but I'm feeling particularly content and forward-looking today, so I'm posting it again. From that crazy old coot Robert Bly:

Things to Think

Think in ways you've never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged, or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time, or that it's
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

I mean, I just love that poem. I think it might be my favorite poem ever, and I usually refrain from picking favorites.


  1. Oh I LOVE that poem too. That last line always seems to surprise if I don't know that it's coming, and then it comes, and it grabs my heart and squeezes it a little. "...tell you you're forgiven..."

    We must cultivate forgiveness. Of ourselves, of those we love, of those things we do not fully understand but need to let go. As Patty Griffin croons:

    We are calling tonight on a thin phone line
    As usual we're having ourselves one
    hell of a time
    And the planes keep flying right over our head no matter how long we shout
    we keep waving our arms in the air but we're all tired out

    I heard somebody say
    today's the day
    big ol hurricane
    she's blowing our way
    knocking over the buildings
    killin all the lights
    open your eyes boy
    we made it through the night
    open your eyes boy
    we made it through the night

    so take a walk on the bridge
    right over this mess
    don't need to tell me a thing baby
    we've already confessed
    and I wave my arms to the air
    and we are blessed
    it's hard to give
    it's hard to get
    but everybody needs a little

    Have a great day, JJ. -- MSH

  2. p.s. thanks for the book recommendation...I'm gonna look into that one. Dontcha just love it when the Universe has its eye on your reading list? ; )

  3. and...I'm having a deja vu, as if I already posted those lyrics to your blog before, or sent them to you. Ugh. Ah well. Can't get enough Patty! I have now officially hogged the comment section of this post. Forgive me. (insert ironic smile here)

  4. That's a pretty pimp view, I think your desk will do good there, screw Feng Shui and all that jazz.

    I'm not sure what they were thinking back in 1908 when they decided to trek burros up the side of that hill with rocks and put a big "M" up there...maybe they were thinking "yeah, this is really gonna be cool...just think, 100 yrs from now some professor will be gazing at this thing and it will inspire them to figure out what to do with their life." One interesting thing to note, they sure as hell didn't think it would be a WOMAN professor at that! Awesome.

  5. Love this comment--thank you. And love you, too!