The Prompt: “Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?” (Author: Gwen Bell)
The word for 2010 is flux. Specifically, the definitions having to do with uncertainty and establishing a new direction of action, constant motion, and constant change. Now, change is good. I’m a fan of change. I’m also a fan of motion.
This year (2010) has been a little too fluxy for my taste. Let me just give you a few examples of flux-by-month:
- January: I knew I had a post-doc position lined up, but I was staring down the barrel that was getting to the “post” part of the post-doc. I was also entirely unwell.
- February: I figured out why I was unwell, and fixed it. I flew across the country and back for a conference, and a last check-in in person with the diss advisor before the eight-week push to finish it.
- March: Another cross-country trip, another presentation, a wrecking ball of a thought crossing my mind, and four weeks to finish a diss.
- April: The reality of finishing and defending the diss.
- May: Two cross-country trips, two presentations, dumping most of my stuff, and preparing to move to Canada.
- June: Canada doesn’t let me in with my stuff, so I dump it and “move” anyway for a week, then I drove to Boston and back, then I got to move to Canada for real (that is not a causal relationship).
- July: I sat still for a few weeks. Then, another cross-country trip, and giving up any notion of ignoring that wrecking ball.
- August: While preparing to start the post-doc position and a year of teaching, was recruited for a position elsewhere.
- September: On my first official day in the post-doc, told my supervisor that I just had a phone interview elsewhere. Two cross-country trips, one including a presentation, some meetings, and an all-day interview for said position.
- October: Trying to teach, work, and deal with the foregone conclusion of leaving in a few months.
- November: See “October,” but add “one cross-country trip” into the mix, and trying to wrap up a book project while starting two others.
- December: It’s the first day of this month, but it looks like this: 12 days in Victoria, 10 days of conference-related travel (including to The Netherlands), one day to pack up the car, then 4 days of driving to Virginia. Then the new year.
I take full responsibility for every single bit of that flux. I could have stopped it at any point. I didn’t have to try to finish the diss a year early, or go to any conferences that I did throughout the year, or consciously acknowledge any wrecking ball, or drive six thousand miles in ten days, or listen to the person who recruited me for the new job, or go down that path at all. I could have invoked stare decisis and let everything stand.
But for me, the precedent is always motion. Motion in the service of growth, hopefully.
I’ve had a tattoo since…1995ish…that is supposed to serve as a constant reminder of the process and balance (I guess that’s “interaction between”?) three key factors: stasis, flow, and growth. The tattoo is three runes from the Elder Futhark alphabet. Back in the day, I was playing around with my friend’s set of runes on a particularly troubling day, and out popped these three, in this order. It triggered a thought (or twelve). Stuck with me. The characters are “Isaz” (ice—stasis), “Laguz” (water—flow), and “Jera” (harvest—growth).
For 2011, I want to pull the flux back so that it is just simply fluid. The laguz, if you will. I’m cool with variables; I’m cool with change. And I am all about moving forward with consistency. But I’m keying on the part of the definition of “fluid” that is about being amorphous. Not because I want to lack shape—I mean, I contain some pretty strong elements. But “matter that tends to flow and to conform to the outline of its container”? I need some of that. Just a few structures to guide the flow.
[This post is part of Reverb 10 “an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.” This is my post #1.]