For the past couple of years I've been thinking and writing about many of the same topics: Academic philosophy. Graduate school. Relationships (that start and end). What I'm doing with my life and what I want to do. Where I'll be when I do it. About a year and a half ago I noticed that the nature of my posts was starting to change. Rather than reflecting on the philosophy that I was reading and writing about how it relates to real life, I started to simply write about real life. This blog went from somewhat academically-informed to pseudo self-help insights from a twenty-something-year-old. That slow distancing from academic philosophy in my blogging reflected a slow separation from academic philosophy in my personal life. I stopped reading philosophy because I got bored with reading philosophy. Even the stuff that was aimed at me--as a member of the target audience of academic researchers interested in Nietzsche, rhetoric, and writing styles, for instance--was painful to get through. When I would force myself to go to public talks or conference presentations, I found myself getting frustrated and angry. Even the stuff by feminist philosophers seemed to be too insular, too arrogant, or the comments and questions that followed too self-aggrandizing or too antagonistic (and I lost all hope for other philosophy that didn't even try or pretend to be relevant to life and interests outside of academic philosophy). The summary of my relationship with philosophy over the past year goes something like this: I haven't been feeling very inspired. Like a stale marriage, philosophy, it has seemed, just got too far removed from my life. I'm around it all the time. I force myself to keep working at it. I try to make it exciting and plan fun activities whenever I can. Overall, though, we're probably heading down the path toward a divorce. But that's not the part that's hard to write.
In the past couple of weeks my life has taken an unexpected turn. It's not the kind of turn that would immediately change everything in my life like a terrible car accident, getting married, or winning the lottery. However, it could have been. And nevertheless, this event has changed my life in a different way. On the surface, for those who aren't receiving phone calls from me every few days, it very likely appears as though nothing has changed at all. But for me, something very, very big has occurred that has forced me to look deeply, carefully, and lovingly at my life. I've been taking stock of where I am, what I am doing, where I am going, and where I want to be. Same old, same old, right? Wrong. Because this time it's serious. Rather than just musing about the possibilities in a free-floating kind of way that is kept afloat by a low-level, ever-present anxiety about the unknowns of one's future, this is is a type of reflection that takes priorities, values, needs, goals, and dreams very seriously into account. It's the kind of thinking that functions as if you just realized that you're heading into some rapids and you don't have a raft. You start thinking, "How the hell do I get a raft?" or "I need to get off of this river."
|This delicate little branch has been around my neck for over a week now. In that time, it's taken on a symbolic meaning as a reminder to love strong and do right.|
As part of my effort to build up a better bathroom for myself and others, I'm refocusing my energy on what I'm good at, what I value most, and how I can best use the skill set that I have been gifted through my experiences. (Did I say I would quit with the metaphor? No. Is it confusing if you don't know what I'm talking about? Probably. Here's a hint: "bathroom" refers to a number of things so don't think about it too hard. Just keep reading...I'm almost done anyway.) I don't know if this means that I will be doing professional academic philosophy. But I really want it to mean that I find a way to help people think about their experiences in ways that inform practical ways of living that are empowering, therapeutic, and transformative on social, political, and personal levels. In other words, my goal is find a way to keep doing philosophy that remains true to the real reasons why I got into it in the first place. That way may be known by a different name but I want philifesophy to be at the heart of it.