Holding on to Beauty, Holding on to Humanity

Photograph of a bouquet of flowers including yellow sunflowers, pink/lavender roses and assorted wildflowers

I’ve been bringing flowers into the office the last few weeks.

It’s my reminder that beauty exists in the present, in the moments in between, in spaces that can sometimes seem empty and cold otherwise.

It is my reminder that the spark of light in me exists even when I am not moving, even when I have spent so much time hiding behind the screen of my computer that the motion detector turns off the lights, and I am forced to wave my hands to signal that I am still here. I am still here. The spark is still here.

I have been thinking a lot about humanity as I’ve transitioned to my new role as Department Chair, and as I prepare my dossier to be evaluated for full professor. I think a lot about the humanity in this blog which has catalogued my academic journey since it began. I think about when and how I make space for myself, to write, to reflect, to grow…and also, about when and how I make space for myself, to pause, to be still, to be human.

Lately, it has been hard to make time for my humanity. The nature of my new position is one of doing, reacting and responding. My days are full with administrative duties that leave little time or energy for the work of my heart and the quiet moments of reflection and deep thought that are the fertile ground for writing. I am good at what I do, and aside from Mondays when commutes are hard and e-mail queues feel impossible to clear, I like it. But I know it’s easy to compartmentalize, to lose my most human self, to become disconnected in the doing instead of present to my being.

In all of this, I remain grateful for beauty, for community, and for growth. This week, I got to talk with multiple friends who could hear I wasn’t there, and instead of turning the lights off on me, they called me into myself. They made space for whatever self was there, present or absent, and also reminded me that my best self was waiting patiently when I was ready. They reminded me that the parts of me that seem so far away (in the past or in the future) are all actually here in this moment, for me to choose, if I can embrace myself, if I can embrace hope, if I can pause to listen. They reminded me that they are here for me, even if and when I can’t be here myself.

There is a lot to hold in these moments, a lot of urgency around me, but in the midst of all of the things, there is still humanity, there is still beauty, there is still community, and I am working to hold onto these things, as a quiet means of resistance and revolution.

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