Barn's burnt down
I can see the Moon.
~ Mizuta Masahide

Thursday, December 15, 2011

To begin anew...

In these waning days of my first professional foray, I have had ample opportunity to explain my decision to move on, chase a dream, and hopefully, finally, pursue my passion.

I began this foray more than ten years ago, convinced that I wanted to be a university professor of English, when really, all I knew was that I did NOT want to teach middle and high school any more and I loved literature.  These last ten years were not, however, a waste.  They were my process of discovery and discernment, through which I made lifelong friends, had many fabulous and life-altering adventures, learned the power of failure and the regenerative force of love. 

But above all this, I finally found the courage to live my one life with passion and conviction.  

As I put to rest my eight year struggle with a dissertation that just... would... not... come... together, I came across two passages, one from Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Samurai and the other, from Michel Foucault's The Use of Pleasure:
Barn's burnt down
I can see the moon.

As to those for whom to work hard, to begin and begin again, to attempt and be mistaken, to go back and rework everything from top to bottom, and still find reason to hesitate from one step to the next – as to those, in short, for whom to work in the midst of uncertainty and apprehension is tantamount to failure, all I can say is that clearly we are not from the same planet.
Letting go of my doctoral pursuit was traumatic.  But it was also an opportunity to recalibrate, reimagine, clarify and truly see not who I thought I was going to be, but who I am happy I've become.

I have had two lifelines in the last two years: my daughter and my garden.  While I have always been vested in social justice, becoming a mother has made me even more determined to insure that I am actively helping to create the world in which I want my daughter to grow and thrive.  I became even more obsessive about gardening and, as much as my schedule as a working single mother allowed, embraced the urban homesteading lifestyle.  That commitment introduced me to an incredible community of urban homesteaders, notwithstanding some self-important strivers who had convinced themselves that they were the founders of urban homesteading, and therefore had the right to trademark the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading".  Dorks.

In the last year, I have recognized an increasingly enthusiastic transformation in my professional and personal interests.  While I still love literature (reading it, rather than writing about it [or worse, grading writing about it]), and I still aspire to publish (memoir and fiction), I have become mildly obsessive about urban agriculture, urban sustainability and the role of the law in both.

So, with my current position vulnerable to the federal budget pissing match, my daughter being young enough to forgive me, and all of my non-school debt due to be paid off by next spring, I decided to do something radical.

I am going back to school.

I have already received a full tuition scholarship to one of my top law school choices, which is awesome, because I am absolutely debt-adverse given the state of the legal job market, my age and my goals: I aspire to be a legal advocate for urban agricultural activities in post-industrial cities like Detroit.  I don't anticipate getting rich, but look forward to making a living doing meaningful and variable work that I suspect I will enjoy.

And so, I begin anew.

It is scary.  It is exciting.  It is me.

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