Cumulative Days Riding: 166 Cumulative Days Blogging: 151
Today’s Mileage: 4 Total Trip Mileage: 1116
As I ride the bike this evening I think back to a long lunch discussion I had with a friend earlier today. I was trying to explain to her the nature of the “confused and unsettled state” I have struggled with for the last half dozen days. As often happens in long discussions with this friend, statements elicit questions and answers are punctuated by requests for further clarification! It is a process that some people might see as circular and a “waste of time,” however it helps me to refine my thinking on important topics.
I would like to briefly share with you the primary issues I have been mulling over as I “went silent” for the better part of a week. As we ride westward across northern Florida in the coming days, I will explore these issues in more detail and explain how they are related to my spirituality and connectedness.
Before I present the basic issues I would like to note that Psychologists have long recognized that the label “stressful” is not reserved for only negative events, but fit for any event that signifies/represents a change in one’s life! While negative events (e.g., a death, job loss, divorce) can be devastating, positive events (e.g., graduation, marriage, a new job) are also disruptive to well established life patterns and routines. My friend asked me if I was worried about “making it through” this period of stress?
I answered with a resounding NO! Research has shown that even winning the lottery can and is stressful (i.e., the demands associated with managing large amounts of cash), however the factor that best predicts a person’s long term happiness with their “good fortunes” is the degree of happiness the y experience before their winnings. In other words… happiness before the disruption best predicts adjustment to the disruption! Since I have been in a “joyful” mood for some time I have no doubt I will come through this stronger.
Here are the issues:
1) I have experienced an acute awareness of the numerous issues fueling conflict within our communities, nation and world. This awareness has been greatly heightened by the process of searching for blog topics and pilgrimage sites. Not an unexpected occurrence, but the poignancy of this process has been surprising.
2) I have experienced transitory feelings of helplessness and hopelessness associated with the above mentioned awareness. I am an optimist; however the number and deep seated nature of the difficulties we face represent an extremely daunting task especially as it sometimes seems that our options grow more limited by the day!
3) I am experiencing a desire for renewal and/or change with respect to my academic career. I am celebrating my 25th anniversary as a University Professor! I love teaching and interacting with the students, I don’t savor all of the superficial demands that go along with the job and the 2 ½ hour a day commute is grueling. In addition, my creative endeavors and interests have always taken a back seat to my academic career (bringing home a pay check). I feel that it may be time to give my creativity a chance to shine. A spirit confined can at best only stretch its wings, it can’t soar!
4) I am struggling with a sense of parental sadness as I try to let go of my dreams for my eldest son, while at the same time savoring the memories. This is coupled with a sense of fear for the choices he has made: dropping out of school, joining the Army, and the fact that he will likely go to war as an explosive expert (e.g., his job will be the same as the character on “the Hurt Locker”).
5) I look forward with deep joy to my upcoming marriage. I have found someone who does not merely tolerate who I am (my liberal beliefs, my Eastern Spirituality, my creativity, my jokes) but celebrates my strengths as gifts and forgives my weaknesses! Still, merging lives, schedules, and families involves an ongoing process of finding balance… a joyful, but still stressful task!
Well, that is it in a nut shell. I left out any reference to my spiritual journey, however, all of these points are impacted by my search for and review of pilgrimage sites. I will speak to this impact in future blog postings. Have a wonderful day!