I find it so interesting to discover that the way in which I view myself can change almost in an instant. The facts of my life are no different from one moment to the next, but the way in which I view myself changes significantly.
Last week, as I was updating my cv, it occurred that I no longer need to gloss over the four year break I took from academia. In academic terms, spending four years in a retreat centre makes me ‘interesting’ at best and at worst a freakish religious nut. So for the last eight years I have been conscious of the need to explain away that period so that I move closer to the ‘interesting’ end of the crackpot spectrum.
It is not that I am ashamed or embarrassed in any way about those years. In many ways they laid a foundation for the person I am today.
But as I sat at my computer screen last week something shifted in me. I recognised that I have reestablished myself. No one looking at my publication record now would wonder about the gap – it isn’t even that obvious. I can stand on the strength of my record again.
When I was leaving the retreat centre, I had a conversation with a few of my colleagues about handedness. I said that I felt as though I was left handed in spirituality and was returning to my (natural) right handed pose in chemistry. In re-engaging in chemistry, I have felt like I am a leftie in chemistry too for many years.
But today, I feel truly ambidextrous – I am able to hold my own in both chemistry and in spirituality. It is a tremendous grace and one for which I am deeply grateful.
It still amazes me though – nothing factual about my life has changed in the last 10 days, but I view myself so differently! Perspective – we are so oblivious to the distortion in our way of seeing until something shifts. To any of us who take pride in our capacity to see things clearly, it is profoundly humbling.