Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Sense of Peace

Now that I have had some time to rest and wind down from the FAHE conference, a sense of peace settles upon my soul.

I really have made it through an extraordinarily busy and complex year, and I did well with it overall. We hired two new people for our small philosophy department of four. I organized a big campus-wide lecture on global climate change that was an important experience for all who participated. A small group of us initiated a process for developing a peace studies program -- the process is well underway but not yet complete. My department created a department assessment plan. I participated in a review of a neighboring philosophy department; co-authored part of a big accreditation self-study report; revived our student philosophy club; advised; taught a bunch of classes; chaired an active campus committee; played a major role in planning the FAHE conference; and attended to a whole host of other routine tasks of being chair (managing the budget, planning course schedules, etc.).

Even though I have expressed some doubts and concerns in recent postings about the toll on me of the relentless busyness of this past year, now that I have had a moment to breathe, I can say that I am glad for all of this.

It forced me to develop new techniques for staying organized.

In having to work with lots of people in various complex ways, I learned well my strengths and limitations in working with people. I learned that I am capable of staying strong and clear under pressure. But I also confirmed that I do prefer it when my life is filled with projects that are mostly just up to me, such as writing projects. Having to summon and coordinate the energy of lots of people just is hard on me. There are others who love this and are good at it. With effort, I can be good at it too (because basically I like people and am good at staying in touch with the ideals of joint effort), but it takes a huge toll on me emotionally.

Still, I am glad to have tested this so thoroughly. Leadings do call forth from us new personal challenges. Somehow I feel it is really important for me to have learned what I have learned this year, about myself, about how people work together, and about how the world works.

Now, having learned, I am really ready to make new decisions about how I want to focus my life. What I have especially missed this past semester was time to work on writing for publication. Most of the busyness of last year consisted of special projects that now are complete and will not repeat next year. Now I am free to set my writing as my highest priority.

I feel this last year has been filled with service I had to do, and am glad I did, but my next new learning is this:

The world on its own is not going to open up in the ideal way that invites me to give that which I uniquely have to give. It's up to me to find a way to give what I have uniquely to give. That is the nature of gift.

With some embarrassment, I realize now that all along I have wanted the world to reach out to me in the ideal way that would perfectly guide my growth and development, and ask with clarity and appreciation for what I uniquely have to give. But the world just doesn't do this, for anyone. The world does ask much of us, but what it asks is not necessarily what is really ours to give. It is part of the responsibility that each of us has as individuals to learn how to discern our true gifts and live them into being.

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