I think one of the reasons that I took my somewhat circuitous path through the work force was the pleasure I took in the creative process. Before I stepped away from that world I was fortunate enough to have been part of the creation of four programs: the Behavioral Liaison program, Reflections Treatment Agency, Parkway Academy, and Peninsula Village. Reflections is no longer around, but the other three are, and I would guess that they bear little resemblance to the programs I helped create. This is as it should be. I also had the unfortunate experience of being part of programs which had been in existence long enough to enter the “we do it this way because that’s the way we do things here” phase, which was as a rule less healthy for everyone, staff and students alike. I’ve felt for a long time that “that’s the way we’ve always done it” can occasionally function as a legitimate supporting argument, but has very little strength as a primary one.
My own preference for creation over maintenance, for asking questions rather than memorizing answers, informs much of who I am now, a little self-examination reveals, from politics (progressive) to religion (Unitarian Universalist) to the way I choose to spend my time now that I’m out of the work force. Writing books, playing music, moving into new circles of friends while I try to hang on to most of my old ones, all of these things are components of what is turning out to be a pretty good phase of my life. The whole grandparent thing is pretty sweet, too.
I had a conversation with an old friend yesterday, and in the course of our time together this man, usually very optimistic, said that he now has periods of deep despair and anger when he looks around. I had no easy answer for him, and still don’t even after thinking about it for a day, but I think Bucky Fuller had it right when he said that what seems to be important at the moment is never what is really going on. The predilection of the media for one type of story (“If it bleeds, it leads,” as the old saying goes) makes my friend’s anger and despair seem to be a reasonable reaction. There is more, though, much more, and some of it is a strong counterpoint to the forces pushing us into anger and despair.
Annette said during her message today that “a loving curiosity” is a good stance to take in the world (I’m paraphrasing, or more likely riffing on her original thought). When I saw her later I told her that a loving curiosity was a tough gig sometimes, and I think that’s true. I also think it’s a stance worth striving toward.