Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Next Adventure

Hmm, no one ever responds to the questions I pose. Methinks it is because I pose very difficult questions.

Anyway, during my last writing, I was feeling burdened by decisions. People continue to keep asking me to do things (see High Demand), and each request requires a decision and a response, and I was starting to feel like I was spending too much time thinking about and responding to things that other people wanted me to do -- hence my question about whether having decisions is a state of freedom or a kind of captivity.

Meanwhile, all of this was bothering me a little because I was in the midst of my own meta-decision. I call it a meta-decision, because it was the kind of decision that I needed to make before I could adequately respond to many of the other requests that were coming in. And my time was running out -- if I delayed any longer making my meta-decision, the opportunity might slip away.

The meta-decision was whether or not to take a month and go visit my very favorite Quaker retreat center! Making the decision to do this would require a leap of faith, and would complicate my life in the short-term, but in the long-term might do my soul a whole lot of good. After almost deciding not to -- it would be too complicated! -- suddenly I did an about-face and decided to do it. In a flurry of activity, I got a plane ticket, booked the visit, and ordered a laptop computer so that I could continue my research and writing while away.

Of course all of this requires a significant outlay of money, and spending large chunks of money scares me. It's possible my university might give me funding since I will be working on research -- I finished and submitted my application for this today. But it is also possible that they won't give me the funding.

Leap of faith. Even if the funding does not come through, it's not the end of the world, and I do have a strong sense that I must do this. It's not just about me and the renewal I seek, though I'm finally willing to admit out loud that this dimension is quite important. It's that I sense that something important is going to happen on this trip.

I cannot yet tell what it is that will be important about this trip, but I can share some of the more concrete reasons why I'm so happy about this:

  • It will be so good to travel among Friends again.
  • I'm very eager to leave the U.S. for a time and see what the world situation looks like from abroad.
  • I'm very excited about the prospect of immersing myself in good Quaker libraries and digging through archives of the writings of the early Friends.
  • I'll be reconnecting with one of the most important times of my past -- a time when I had dropped out of college for a while and ended up spending a most amazing year at this very same study center. That year helped launch me upon the trajectory that turned me into a college professor, and so it is very meaningful for me now to go back now: as a tenured professor on sabbatical. The me back then wanted this to be my future, but could hardly believe it could ever be possible. (I expect when I get there, I'll just cry and cry for a bit. I hope they understand!)
  • It's an environment that I will find very supportive for contemplation and writing.

So, I'm very excited about this. I will leave in just a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, as I try to get myself (my writings, and my new laptop) organized for the trip, I also now have a new good excuse to keep saying "no" to the requests that keep coming in: "I'm departing soon for an extended research trip and need to get organized and get some things done before I go!" I don't always say that, exactly, but I think it, and thinking it gives me strength to stay my course.

But it did actually get me out of jury duty. I called on the Appointed Day as I was asked to do, to check on whether the case was actually happening as scheduled. The woman who answered said that it was posponed for a month, and so I would need to call back then. "But I'll be out of the country," I said. She asked how long. "A month," I replied. "Well, I'll mark you down as 'excused' then," she told me.

"That was easier than I expected!" I thought to myself. (And it's rare these days that I find this to be the case!)

Is this a sign that Way is Opening for me at last?

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