Monday, February 21, 2011

now i begin

I have decided to resume blogging. I considered starting a new blog. After all, the last time I posted was nearly two years ago. The tone of a few of my past posts is a little too maudlin; maybe I should distance myself from those. I am at a very different place now from where I was then. I am the same person, though, with the same quiet voice and I carry the experiences of the past six years with me.

In short, when I wrote my last blog post two years ago, I was heart-broken, homesick, disillusioned with science, unsure of why I was still in my PhD program, and to be frank, often afraid that my advisor would ask me to leave. Now I’m newly married to a wonderful man and still working on my thesis, true, but getting more excited each day about my work and possibilities for the future. This picking myself up off the ground has been a long and arduous process. I know I’m still a long way from the end of that process. But I’m realizing that one of the most important things for me to do will be to incorporate my years of failure - not to hide them or to be ashamed of them, but to accept them as part of what has shaped my path and my identity.

Too often, I have tried to pretend that my years of failure never happened. I tried to begin from my last successful moment, ignoring all that I have done wrong, but also all that I have learned from my failures. It is time for me to begin from where I am. My mistakes and failures are as much a part of me as are my successes. Both are, at their root, traits and characteristics in need of redemption, a mixture of good and bad that has led to my personal assortment of failure and success along the way. I must be humble about both. I am not nearly so good or so terrible as I’d like to think.

Like Bilbo Baggins, the son of Belladonna Took and Bungo Baggins, I find myself at a decision point and caught between two worlds.
As [the dwarves] sang, the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him... Then something Tookish woke up inside of him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He looked out the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water, a flame leapt up - probably somebody lighting a wood-fire - and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.

He got up trembling. He had less than half a mind to fetch the lamp, and more than half a mind to pretend to, and go and hide behind the beer-barrels in the cellar, and not come out again until all the dwarves had gone away.
I am looking out the window at the possibilities ahead. Like Bilbo, I have in me both Took and Baggins - the part of me that would like to go explore new vistas and do exciting things, and the part of me that would like to be comfortable, to avoid the possibility of failure and humiliation. It is time to pick up my sword - to pick up my cross - and to go where I have been called.


Beth Bell Kyle, Providence Associate/SMWC '00 said...

Congratulations on the marriage. I am glad you came back to this blog. I think the world needs more women voices reflecting on God, Science and this beautiful struggle we call life.

Mara's Child said...

Thank you for your encouragement! It's good to see that someone's already reading this =)