Random stuff. Above pics are from a late September trip to Thousand Island Lake.
There has been so much work recently that I haven’t had time to even think about updating this blog! So, for now, I’ll do a quick-and-dirty overview of things that have been happening and things I’ve been thinking about. When I have a few minutes of breathing room later next month, I’ll return to drama-filled existential postings about nothing in particular.
The past month has also been filled with a variety of new experiences, each of which merits a short mention. With an immense amount of help from colleagues, I wrote my first federal grant to create a new high school study and travel program in Kunming. While the process was as procedure-bound as I expected, it was also exciting to be able to create something of nothing, to build program ideas and possibilities out of what seemed like thin air and to make ideas a reality. I’m particularly excited for this program as it would give me the opportunity to work once again with high school students – an age group that I miss and feel drawn to teaching in the future. With this older group of students, I can be less structure-bound and more experimental in creating programming, and can involve students more in decision-making processes. I can have students build their own independent projects and courses of study, and can give a fair bit of freedom when we are traveling or on field trips.
And yet this program (and the two other new programs this year), though exciting, leads to a challenge about which I’ve recently been thinking quite a bit. As it currently appears, job responsibilities require me to be in China for nearly three months this summer. On a basic level, I love China: I love the daily pace of life, the feeling of community, the sensation of having never-ending streams of experiences both familiar and blindingly new, the feeling of being in a state of perpetual revelation – of constantly absorbing and learning and understanding and becoming impossibly puzzled at the miraculous fact and experience of life that surrounds you. I similarly love travel, new experiences, new people, and new ideas – not to mention getting away from the eerily empty ghost town that is a school in the summertime.
And simultaneously, I feel drawn back by personal connections. Previously free as the wind to pursue random adventures at the blink of an eye, I now find myself – for perhaps the first time in my adult life – in a relationship which has become so important to me that it makes me question the value of my previous ‘freedom.’ I do not feel tied down, limited, or bound in any way; I just feel a different range of conflicting motivations than I did before. How do I balance the exigencies of my job – and my desire for adventure – with the desire to maintain this strong, loving relationship? How do I simultaneously lose and keep myself; or, in better terms, how do I work with my partner to build upon each others’ strengths and transform each other into better, more fulfilled, happier people (and all that associated crap)?
I’m not having any kind of crisis of confidence, or confusion about where I’m going – I’m just learning how to recalibrate my life balance in the wake of some important additions and changes – and doing so makes me feel like a toddler who just pooped his pants: not quite ready for prime time.
Additional updates of note: I ran my first marathon a few weeks ago, a beautiful course through the towering trees of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The first half, during which time I was running alongside half-marathon competitors, felt like a jog; the second half, in which I was completely alone – four minutes behind the leader and fifteen minutes ahead of everyone else – was quite painful and provided a reminder of how much of running success is mental. While I was moderately happy with the result (having competed in only one race since college, I didn’t really know what to expect beforehand), I’m thinking about how I can train in a more focused, purposeful manner, and how I can better prepare mentally and physically before and on race day to run a better time. I welcome any and all marathon suggestions – especially scenic, fast courses!
And on the theme of running, my kids’ cross-country season is wrapping up, with the final race next Monday. It’s been fun working with the group this year; while a lot of excellent 8th grade runners left for high school last year, we’ve managed to build the team into a great group which has achieved a lot of success!
There’s too much other news to relate – much unimportant – and so I’ll allow the two people who still read this blog (thanks, Mom and Dad!) to finish whatever more important things they were working on before they were rudely interrupted. More stuff to come as soon as I can have another half-hour break!