I have been in a bit of a slump the last week or so. I think it is the time of year – the fact that I am not yet ready for autumn, or the fact that I have had a lot of what-am-I-doing-with-my-life drama in recent weeks, from thinking about my career to doing 10Q to trying to buy a flat to figuring out what city I will be in for the next few months. It is a lot of planning and adultness, but it is also a lot of dreaming. I have spent hours with my husband recently, thinking about our home and talking about what sort of people we will be in that home.
That’s all the background.
Tonight at work, I was trying to find a blog post I wrote about 10 years ago about how everyone in Central Asia blames the Chinese for all kinds of things. I didn’t succeed in finding that, but I did find this post that I wrote on Dec. 26, 2003. (I also learned that I need to figure out a way to download my Xanga posts somehow or I might lose them.)
There’s lots that I sort of cringe about in that post (and my comment on it later): my blog in those days was a bit more of a diary than anything I would post publicly now. But it reminded me so much of what sort of person I used to be. I mean, I used the phrase “reckless hope” to describe the way I answered a question in the interview for the fellowship I went on in Central Asia. What a great and youthful phrase!
At the same time, what else would it be? They asked me how I would know I had succeeded. I had such a confident and wonderful answer – that the goal was learning, and I couldn’t not learn. I quoted a lot of Krishnamurti in this post as well, stuff like:
It is a mad world, completely confused, in which … everybody is against somebody, struggling to arrive at a safe place, a position of power or comfort. The world is torn by conflicting beliefs, by caste and class distinctions, by separative nationalities, by every form of stupidity and cruelty–and this is the world you are being educated to fit into.
Are you ambitious when you love to do something for its own sake? When you are doing something with your whole being, not because you want to get somewhere, or have more profit, or greater results, but simply because you love to do it–in that there is no ambition, is there?
I have been circling back to that year in Central Asia a lot this past year – partly because of Ben’s death, and partly because that was the year when I felt the most like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing at that time. I was a great version of myself. I was … well, I was recklessly hopeful.
I did all kinds of things to reroute my thoughts to where they were that year. I bought the books I read – St. Augustine and Krishnamurti and Peter Singer. I read them, and other things. I listened to some of the music. I talked to a lot of the people, and I tried to recall our conversations.
But I hadn’t read my own words. My words in that post are a message and a warning: that if I am not careful, I will be trapped by worry or striving for external goals.
I have forgotten about what it means to learn and have remembered what it means to worry. If I am going to really learn, don’t I have to get rid of this fear? Don’t I just need to love what I am doing, to love in general and to endlessly pursue knowledge and wonder?
I have felt echoes of these sentiments again lately. My recent career decision has felt like a step in that direction, but if the goal is reckless hope, I still have some way to go.