What if I changed the questions? Changed even a word or two?
In the course I teach, young people wrote six word memoirs inspired by Hemingway’s six word story: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” An insightful young man’s work had at least one word bracketed in each of his attempts. When I asked why the parentheses he replied, “Because I could change that word and it would have a different meaning.”
So, I’ve been pondering some big questions and decided to try this tactic myself. Instead of my earlier question, What do I need to let go of, what if the question was What do I need to hold lightly?
For me right now that might mean I don’t have to let go of applying or considering another job in academia but I need to hold that possibility more loosely. For most of my life my professional job has defined me. That is a notion that I must let go of; so how does “holding my professional self” more loosely make that more possible?
Letting go of just that part– the part that I am defined by a job– that would be holding my profession more lightly. Living that for me would mean not feeling such an urgency about getting things done or getting things right. It means living in a more casual relationship with accomplishment; to surrender the product in the service of the joy of engagement in work that evokes a sense of community and greater good.
When I hold things more loosely there is room for other people, ideas, possibilities, and newness to seep in. I like the idea of seeping in. I imagine the new that mingles in with what is already there to slowly transform into something else.
Seeping happens naturally, sort of by gravity, you know how a liquid like that juice from the over ripe tomato on the kitchen counter trickles toward the milk I spilled when filling my cereal bowl. The molecules of one substance have some kind of wild attraction for another substance and they don’t stay their separate selves in the process.
So I’m going to hold on for a bit longer, but very loosely. And, pay attention to what seeps in.