It was exactly the way it plays out in movies about high school when the list of who made the team or the spring play gets posted in the hallway. The hopefuls crowd around the post, straining their necks to see around their classmates. There are high fives and tears, celebrations and breakdowns.
The equivalent here is the mentor selection. The list is taped to the wall outside the Program Office at 1pm. I actually missed the crowd since my seminar didn't get out until 2:30. I thought of sneaking out "to the bathroom", but skipping out of class or needing to hear news at the very moment it breaks is not my style. So at 1pm, I simply glanced at the clock on the wall and then turned my attention back to the discussion. At 2:34pm I read the news that I was selected to study with one of my top choices for mentor this semester.
I got what I wanted.
And then I proceeded to have a complete meltdown. As my eyes scanned the list once, then twice, I felt my mood plummet.
There were some compounding circumstances having to do with almost no sleep since last Wednesday, low blood sugar, and a poorly made salad at the little sandwich shop here on campus. It's all ridiculous, really. There's no place I'd rather be than here, now, and the mentor I was assigned to is exactly the person I had been hoping for since attending her seminar and reading last semester.
So, this is what it's like at a low residency MFA program. Months and months of silence, working alone, feeling disconnected to my fellow students between the monthly reading conferences. Reading reading reading, writing writing writing. And then an intense two weeks of running ragged, pressing inspiration and ideas into my mind like flower petals, hoping their vibrancy will linger at least until I have a chance to re-type my notes.
Just now, on my way into the lounge to jot down these thoughts, I passed a colleague in the courtyard. She was resting on a bench under the stand of sequoias, reading. She offered a seat for me, but I was on my way here to write. I know how comforting the sequoias are. I know how peaceful I feel in the moments I steal to be outside in the soft breeze of the natural world. And yet I choose each morning to hole up in this fluorescent lit room, staring at my MacBook screen, typing out my moods and thoughts about the day before. I know how to nurture myself, and yet I put it aside because I am hungry to grow, thirsting to develop this craft, yearning to write in a way that reaches deep down through muck and pull up gems, to write in a way that heals my personal hurts while touching someone else, helping them to heal.
When I teach yoga, I end every class with the same prayer:
May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I know the beauty of my own true nature.
May I be healed.
May I be a source of healing in the world.
It is a question of balance, and sometime balance does not mean standing on both feet. It means wobbling, leaning far out to the side, getting knocked off my center, and then finding my way back. I want to grow, and so need to reach beyond my normal range. Later, next week, I'll catch up on sleep, eat well, get to my yoga mat, go for a run at the park, and find my way back to normal.
This, at least for me, is the beauty of my own true nature. I go out on limbs; I sometimes melt. May I be at peace.