Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Slow Emergence

Chicago Ohare

It was dark when I woke. 4:30 in the morning. All was quiet except for the frogs, who never seemed to set love's call aside. (Their wooing task was my constant companion at the conference, often waking me throughout my five consecutive nights.) I dressed slowly, did all the business of what should have been morning and finally stepped outside into the cool mist.

My thoughts were secret goodbyes to many of my sleeping friends, as I passed their various cabins. I made my way past the red-berried holly tree one last time, to the waiting airport shuttle. We rode through the edge of night, chatting. The driver gave me sage advice on being a real person, even as upcoming changes will put me more clearly into the public eye.

On the plane, I meant to nap, but instead met an amazing artist who was on his way to Chicago for the opening of a J-Lo perfume promotion at Macy's. His sculpture was to be the centerpiece at the premiere, and part of me wished I could stay on in Chicago just to see his vision unveiled.

I did stay on in Chicago, as it went, but not for shopping and art appreciation. Fog had put all planes in a "floating" pattern. My flight was significantly delayed. I sat on the floor and wrote and daydreamed, trying to begin processing all that had happened in the week behind me.

It was a slow trip home, and this morning I realize it defines what is ahead of me. I have much to tell about woods and ocean, faces and voices, spiritual awakenings. But it will be a slow emergence. As all real growth and insight must be.

So come, sit beside me, and over the days we shall see.

Chicago O'Hare photo, by L.L. Barkat.


L.L. reads from the real SC book, out in the redwood forest at Mount Hermon. Find the video on Zimbio: Stone Crossings

Please welcome a Mount Hermon blogosphere newcomer with your visit: The Oho Report, by Otto Haugland.

Kirsten's Mount Hermon photos

Mark's thoughts about finding God on a closed trail

Becky's Mount Hermon Report

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Blogger Llama Momma said...

I see this all so clearly. These places are all familiar to me, and yet, you are on the edge of what is unfamiliar and new. Exciting. Scary. Mysterious. I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing about it--living vicariously in your experience.

9:59 AM  
Blogger christianne said...

[insert long sigh here] your description of all this evokes such slowness and quiet. i enjoyed walking through your day of return with you. and i am looking forward to hearing more about your experience, what you saw and learned.

ps: i enjoy spending time in airports and on planes. something about knowing there is nowhere else i need to be at the moment frees me up to just enjoy thinking and reading and journalling and playing sudoku to my heart's content. :)

10:11 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm sighing with very beautiful this is. I loved how you described saying goodbye to all of your sleeping friends. I'm definitely here, waiting and staying to hear where you've been and who God has been for you this week.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in! Can't wait to share in the experience!

12:14 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

It would have been so cool to gather up a contingent of your Chicago buddies and hang around, but sitting on the floor with you? My knees are fifty years older than the rest of my body; if I dared to get down there, who would hoist this sack of bones back up on his feet?

12:41 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Craver -- I had the same thought! How fun to pick up a musing mom and head over to the airport to hang out! Heck, I'd even brew up some kind of funky tea, if anything was growing here! ;-)

4:30 PM  
Blogger Michelle Van Loon said...

Frogsong in the redwoods; O'Hare at the bottom of a midwestern bowl of fog...

From this Chicago girl: It was a pleasure to meet you at Mt. Hermon. Hope you get a full nights' sleep tonight.

5:28 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... I do feel on the edge, in both positive and negative ways. So I cherish any prayers you might offer on my behalf.

Heather... yes.

Christianne... I loved the sigh. Mount Hermon is the kind of place that can evoke such feeling. I am already missing it.

Sarah... thank you for being with me. Who knows what I'll remember to say, or what needs to be said, but it's good to feel there are friends at my side.

Brandom... good deal.

Craver... oh, that would have been marvelous. And I bet we could have hoisted you together (as I see that Llama mama was wishing to come too!)

Llama... I would have enjoyed your presence. And you make me laugh with the tea reference.

Michelle... a pleasure to meet you too. And that's a lovely way to describe my trip. I slept all the way through last night. That never happens, so it was a blessing indeed.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's sounds wonderful--all of it. Well, maybe not the arising at 4:30 am, but the conversation, and even using the delay to sit and observe and write.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear your insight and reflections on the trip, and I loved the title of your post. That's always the way I feel after returning from a long trip - especially one that is profound.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

Beautifully written. I felt with you. I, too, feel like I am about to emerge, as I make decisions about where to do a PhD.

2:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It was nice to meet you as well. May God bless your steps as you walk with him.


12:11 PM  
Blogger jcubsdad said...

When I journey as you just did I try to savor the time going, and the time coming home. I try not to rush and just soak in the things learned, seen and done. I never try to rush home. I know a wife and son await me who are anxious to see me, but taking my time helps me to be a better person for them.

I have learned many a valuable lesson in airports. I do not take it for granite when I get extra time there. Instead I listen, I soak it in, and in turn use it to teach others.

I am glad you have had a great time. You Kirsten and Mark all seem to be bearing the indellible mark God put in you this week. I can not wait to see it.

5:49 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

laura.... this post woo'ed me..... and i can't wait to hear more and read all the magic to come.

the peepers are back here, too. i first heard them a couple of weeks ago, when i arrived home after dark, on a very cold night.... and they have been a part of the night noises since.

8:22 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

The Oho Report said...
Jennifer... it was a delight. And I didn't even mind the 4:30 rising, as it was really 7:30 NY time and I was still not completely acclimated to CA time.

Spaghetti... it is rather like coming up slowly from the bottom of an ocean... a little surreal.

Lynet... marvelous! What kinds of things are playing into your final decision?

Michelle... maybe again sometime at MH, yes?

Blue... I'm feeling like some of these things are so deep I'll never be able to bring them to light. That's how growth is sometimes. We can't quite put our finger on what's happened, but we feel it deeply. As for the peepers, I love them. These guys were full-fledged frogs and, wow, were they loud in a brash kind of way! :)

10:20 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Gyrovague... oops! I passed you by. I like your description of how you travel home and appreciate the unexpected moments. Perhaps we would all be better people if we moved through life in this way. Thanks for the welcome back; it's encouraging.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I finally awakened from my hibernation to read this wonderful post. Yes, I so agree it comes slowly over time, and I hope I'm present to hear every word of it.

Thanks, L.L.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

I guess the things I'm thinking about . . . oh, heck, this ought almost to be a blog post of its own! It's big. I mean, I thought nothing of committing 3-4 years of my life to my undergraduate degree, but depending on where I go, a PhD could be all of five years -- my whole mid-twenties.

Just a few weeks back I found out that I got into a university which was never on my main list of possibilities for the simple reason that I never thought I'd get in! I'm scared, and excited, and doubtingly aware that if I went there I'd be working my guts out just to keep up. But then, I have to realise that there probably is no way I can go in life without working my guts out, so why not go all-out? Why not turn myself into the best possible applied mathematician I can be?

Then I re-think, and try not to decide too fast, and wonder if my second-favourite option might not involve a more interesting field of study. I wonder a little about what I'll wish I'd done.

Then I start considering little things like the weather and the possible social life and the distance from New Zealand -- heck, it's five years of my life we're talking about! I'm hopeful, though, hopeful above all else.

10:33 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ted... I'm not sure I'll be able to put it into words (see post above), but I'm so happy to have you here waiting even so.

Lynet... that's a beautiful description of the complexity we find when we try to make decisions of this magnitude. If one of your options would bring you to the States, why of course I would be happy for that. What do you think is ultimately most important as a deciding factor, considering who you are in this life?

9:30 AM  
Blogger Lynet said...

I don't know what's most important. I'm divided between the personal and the professional -- to say nothing of the difficulties of comprehending the intersection between the two!

Right now, all I know for sure about what I want in life is that someday I want a cat and a bookshelf. I sit and dream of the permanent home I'm putting off, where I can pile up books and books and not worry about transporting them, where I can build a social life I'm not about to leave and have a bad-tempered moggy who only likes people (s)he knows and maybe, or not, fall in love. I mentioned to a friend the other night that I was leaving this place for probably five years towards the end of the year, and he said "Heck, that's a long time to be away." A long time to be away -- a comforting statement which presupposes coming back; it presupposes belonging here. So I wonder, do I belong here in New Zealand, or do I belong nowhere? Maybe I can only belong in the place that I am, maybe I'm setting myself adrift. To a certain extent, I have to set myself adrift. I have to open myself to wherever my life may lead.

How does this affect my decision on where to go? Mostly it has me thinking about where I want to end up. Someday when I have a cat and a bookshelf, I'm going to need a job -- preferably one that doesn't make me feel like I'm eating sand (as my current one does). That job is probably going to be a huge part of my life -- because the obvious ways of having an interesting job definitely include expending a lot of effort on it. And -- I confess it -- I'm more worried about the personal stuff. I'm more worried about having a life outside mathematics, both while studying and later on. But I know I'll be happier if I can have an enjoyable job, too, and I know that getting one is going to be competitive.

Actually, you know what? I flinch from the heights I know I'm capable of. I can't imagine feeling secure there. It's a ridiculous lack of self-belief; I don't know how to cure it.

I hope you don't mind me thinking all over your blog, LL :-) This is practically a diary session.

I've got a lot to learn: about having a life outside of work without ceasing to love the work itself, about failing and taking setbacks without losing entirely, about not being the best, and about being better than I think I am; capable of taking a job that will quite possibly (eek) make small differences in the world. Heck, I can't imagine what it must be like to be an engineer who designs stuff that people then go out and use -- but if I go the way I'm going, I'll probably find myself designing mathematics that people can use to design stuff that actually, you know, works. Freakiness only once removed. Who'd've thought that I, of all people, could find myself lacking the audacity?

(Must do more improv to build up courage muscles in the face of the unknown and the world of no right answers).

Believe it or not, this sort of does affect the specific question of where to go. It's a question of what I can handle and which places will help me to learn the things I'm going to need to learn. I don't know what the right answer is. Ultimately, there probably isn't a clear right answer at all; it's an artistic question of what colours to paint my life in. But can I possibly comprehend the way the colours will mix?

7:11 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Lynet... it was fun to hear you think all over my blog. A very reflective comment, full and lovely. I was thinking that we all have places of greatness and that truly one never knows which of those places will touch the world the most. There are days when I realize that my greatest good may not come from my writing talents, for instance, but from the quiet moments when I kiss my kids and tuck them in bed. You know?

1:34 PM  

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