A professor whom we honored recently shared his personal and intellectual biography with us in his address. What struck me was what he said regarding the paths he took and the paths that he is taking now: that he really did not know where he was going then, and that he really still does not know where he is going now. It seems as if "one thing leads to another," willy-nilly and without knowing how or why; that we do not plan our excursions, or set the places we go to, and anticipate the people we may meet. Most of all (because that has always been said without really knowing its consequences) that it's OK, that it's fine, and there's nothing to worry about. And this coming from a man who chanced upon philosophy fifty years ago, also without knowing why or what for back then; and this coming from a man who still is in philosophy, again without knowing why or what for.
I can easily say those words myself; heck, I've written about that a long time ago, I teach and preach how beginning is such a wonderful thing to my students every semester. I say it, I understand it--at most conceptually, though I've experienced it for myself in its full weight in the past. But ideas are always pretty and clean--but the same cannot be said of our realities. Past experiences are soon forgotten, or we do not wish to repeat them again. My reality is different now. I am now wondering where to go from here. Or whether I need to go in the first place. Or is this all? Am I supposed to be here?
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I won't be able to go back to teaching this coming second semester in the school I see as home as it was planned. I'll still have a class in the other school I've done some part-time work in the past two years, and which to be honest I miss more than anything else. There's also the possibility of going to another place which needs teachers, which could also be exciting. I'm also seriously considering taking a class or two, now as a student again, to start anew my further studies. Figured that if I'll only have one to two classes (trust me, two's a lot already in terms of preparation and strength), there's no better time to begin studying anew. After all, I miss being on the other side of the classroom already (taking a photography class only confirms my desire). Aside from that, I've noticed that I have been repeating a lot of material in class and in writing--that only means you need to read and study again.
But what am I saying here? It seems then that everything's planned out, that everything's going to be crisp, and neat, and new. That's true, and I'm anxious (in its original, almost lost, positive sense) to take the next few steps again. Yet what I realized when I was mulling over these possibilities was that I still do not have clear goals set for myself, in the short-term and more so for the long-term. That's a bit frightening especially because I've spent almost a decade in this "philosophy experiment," and yet nothing is still certain. "I'm not getting any younger" (but, of course, against a whole lifetime I still am), and things have to be confronted in due time, things will have to be decided upon sooner than later. What I'm trying to say is that I still do not know. I (at times) envy those who already know because there's an aim, a goal, an end in mind, while most things are tentative for me, for the meantime and always part-time (wow, I'm having an epiphany right now) mainly because there are other possibilities--as I began exploring fully (again, an epiphany!) these past few months, the reason why I stopped teaching this semester--and partly because something's still missing. I know that it is within the horizon of philosophy and learning that I can be truly happy--as I have generally been, as I am now. But I don't know which "profession" within that horizon I can gladly waste my youth on and stake my future on. Or if there's even a profession in learning.
These are clichés and platitudes, I above all know. But the reason we have clichés is that they are almost always true. What worries me is that they are too true for me at this time. And even no matter how I wish to take our professor's word for it that even the best of them do not know, I sometimes wonder if these things can help me now.
I am wishing, however--and here is the teacher in me again--that there is truly enough light for the next step. I just don't know where the light will come from next.