November 8, 2012

Community

Your way of being present to your community may require times of absence, prayer, writing or solitude. These too are times for your community. They allow you to be deeply present to your people and speak words that come from God in you. When it is part of your vocation to offer your people a vision that will nurture them and allow them to keep moving forward, it is crucial that you give yourself the time and space to let that vision mature in you and become an integral part of your being.

Your community needs you, but maybe not as a constant presence. Your community might need you as a presence that offers courage and spiritual food for the journey, a presence that creates the safe ground in which others can grow and develop, a presence that belongs to the matrix of the community. But your community also needs your creative absence.

You might need certain things that the community cannot provide. For these you may have to go elsewhere from time to time. This does not mean you are selfish, abnormal, or unfit for community life. It means that your way of being present to your people necessitates personal nurturing of a special kind. Do not be afraid to ask for these things. Doing so allows you to be faithful to your vocation and to feel safe. It is a service to those for whom you want to be a source of hope and life-giving presence.
 
- Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

November 5, 2012

Moving On

Is blogging holding me back? Is it a way in which I am still clinging to my old academic life? Is it a crutch I am depending on because I am afraid to be in the world on my own? If so, maybe it is time to let go of the crutch and to walk on my own two feet into the new world with philosophy in my heart, and not necessarily as a achievement which I can point to ("There! That blog is what I have achieved in my life!").
 
Why do I feel such a need to have the blog? At first I told myself it was a way to show that I was not afraid to speak out loud. Now I wonder if it is because I am afraid to be silent. Maybe I am afraid that all the philosophy ideas that I have will remain within me without expression, and will crumble and die away within me if I don't have a format in which I can make them public. But do I cling to the philosophy ideas as a way to escape from the world in front of me? Maybe because I lack the confidence to think that I can be in the world just by myself as I am? Possibly. Very likely.
 
I am tired of feeling as if my mind has this side project that I have to dedicate a lot of my energy to. And I am tired of wondering if having such a side project is keeping me from unifying my whole being into the present, just where I am. Perhaps this focus on blogging is keeping me from really thinking about and committing to a new career. And perhaps that is keeping me from moving on with my life and growing in new ways such that later philosophy might reenter my life in a fresh and unexpected way.
 
This much I know: I don't want the rest of my life to be defined by my writing random philosophy posts on a blog, and me telling myself that this is me doing a grand project. I want to grow. I want to experiment. I want to learn new things. I want a good, meaningful job. I want to be grateful for the academic philosophy I learnt and which I have internalized. And I want to be open to new ways in which that internalized knowledge might express itself in my life, without me constantly clinging to that knowledge as if it was a treasure I cannot let go.
 
Do I have ideas about mind, action, consciousness, philosophy, Wittgenstein, education, multi-culturalism, etc. which are interesting and possibly novel, and which could be appreciated in an academic context? I think so. But even if that is true, does that mean that is the path my life has to take, so that I have to cultivate those ideas and dedicate my life to them? I don't think so. I want more out of my life. Or at least something different. I want not just to understand the mind, but to experience new modes of consciousness. I want not just to have a theory of action, but to act in a way which reflects freedom and confidence. I want the knowledge of mind, action and philosophy to be reflected in my life, in my consciousness, in my very being. I want to see if such a life and such a mode of being produces new knowledge and new forms of awareness which I am not able to even imagine right now. My guess is "yes". That is an experiment, the experiment of my life.