I recently reread a short essay by Maureen Watson (2015) titled: Treasures in Darkness: Loving the Questions. In the essay, Watson speaks about what it feels like to live in the darkness. A year ago I was in a dark place. Although I had good reason to be there, it was torture. Parker Palmer’s metaphor of winter also speaks to where I was at the time. It was cold. And it felt like the wind was blowing hard as I stood on a flat plain all alone in the dark of night.
My choice to phrase the above paragraph in the manner that I did was intentional. It does mean that I’m no longer solely in that place. I don’t want to imply that I’ve somehow done a 180, but I have made progress. And I can see the progress.
I share all of this because recently I’ve been thinking about a conversation I one had with a counselor. She asked me if it was okay to revisit experiences that I thought I had worked through. In a very stubborn place, I shared with her that I refused to consider the past.
I just wanted to be fixed even though I knew that she wasn’t going to tell me how I could be fixed.
She pointed out that despite working through something in the past, I had since had more experiences that might lead me to see my past experiences differently. She asked me if I thought that was possible. Her question stayed with me, and is often something I still consider.
All of these thoughts combined with a passage I was recently reminded of in my Introduction to College Student Personnel course:
“Personnel workers see the person–at whatever age–not as a single moment independent of the past and the future, but as a transition point in a stream of experience that goes back to infancy and will continue on into the future” (Lloyd-Jones, 1954).
I can’t imagine how we could ever feel settled in higher education, given the combination of these thoughts with current events: the shooting of Keith Scott, the homelessness of the Syrian Refugees, the Native American tribal land protest, and weekly interactions I have with first generation students. Yet, I believe feeling settled is often what we desire. I know that I’ve desperately wanted to feel the security of having settled over the past year and a half. I wanted the safety that I can count on at least one piece of knowledge to be true.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could feel comfort despite of today’s current events, instead of only frustration and darkness?
It is in these moments of desiring comfort and stability, however, that I can see that I’ve managed to get through the darkness I was in. I can find a bit more light by going one step at a time. And this time, I deeply value the light rather than taking it for granted. In other words, now that I can see how far I’ve come, I want to make sure that I’m always a bit uncomfortable. And in many ways I hope that we all are a bit uncomfortable. For it is in that spot, that I believe we discover the most about ourselves.
This post was originally posted on my personal blog sarahschoper.com.
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