It's getting to be the end of the semester. It's spring. Easter was last weekend. Exams are around the corner. Semester goals we set for ourselves are beginning to feel like cruel Sisyphean ordeals. The birds on campus are protecting new goslings and ducklings. T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month. And as far as human feelings on campus go, Old Thomas Stearns seems to have it about right. It's a time of bad human feelings. But, it's also a time of new life for the birds, plants, and animal life around us. Perhaps that's why you find yourself resenting the geese that defecate all over the sidewalks, they are in the time of new life, while we feel another year dying off, and we may not be so sorry to see it go.
In writing this blog, I've been thinking about metaphors that do "work," whether or not we believe in them. Most yoga poses have metaphors for their names--the ubiquitous down dog, etc. These metaphorical names help us move our bodies into strange postures, they help us train our mind-body connection, honing our proprioceptive capacities.
Powerful metaphors can work off the mat as well. And egg that is so much a part of springtime can be one of these. PIndasana (embryo pose) and Garba Pindasana (embryo in the womb pose) (http://www.ashtangayoga.info/practice/the-finishing-sequence/item/pindasana/) are postures in which the yogi balls up, embodying the sealed off safety of the womb. For the ducks and geese on campus (I teach on an especially foul-filled campus), the egg encloses the chick, protecting it from the world's harshness until it's developed enough to sustain the battering that exists outside of the shell.
While junior faculty (or anyone else who may feel vulnerable) are not baby chicks, the egg can be a powerful metaphor for getting through particularly difficult meetings and encounters. There are moments in life when we must encounter people with what some call "toxic" energy (whether these are students, colleagues, or people we live with). Bad energy can be running especially high this time of year.
The metaphor of the egg shell, which is strong and protecting, offers a strategy for such encounters. Before entering such meetings (committee meetings, office hours, faculty meetings, etc.), we can close our eyes and picture enclosing ourselves within the eggshell (or a bubble, or light, whatever works) and saying I am protected here (or, my bubble keeps me safe, whatever affirmation isn't to dorky or weird for you). From within this bubble, we can see the meeting play out as on a screen, without taking the heightened emotions that play out into our own psychic space. I say that this might be especially important for junior faculty because we are still growing into this profession, and for me, at least, it's important that bitterness is not part of the professional persona I grow into. Though April may be the cruelest month, there are metaphors we can use to ensure we hatch safely some day.
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