Dispatches from Durham (not North Carolina). Days 2-5
I met with the principle of the school, who was delightful and reassuring in his encouragement, “ The only way to perhaps not achieve the intentions of the fellowship is to not become involved with the school and students.” Well, that should be easy right? I have comfortable room and board, access to the university library, and an open page to write on. What could be better…
And these first days were…miserable? No, that’s not quite right. Perhaps—disconcerting. Even though I spend a great deal of time on the road, at 61 this was the first time I’ve been away from home for this long, certainly the longest I’d been away from Sue, having gotten married 2 years out of high school. What I found most disconcerting was the lack of significant conversation and how profound the sense of just how unimportant I was. So maybe the word is humbling. We craft narratives of who we are; they give us meaning, sometimes give us courage, and we carry those narratives with us and hope people give a damn. And then there’s more beneath what we don’t craft, but just is. Most of us aren’t used to dwelling there for long…
I moved from my time in Ireland as pilgrimage co-leader, performer, and builder of community, a close knit unit of like minded and similar aged citizens of the US, to a place where literally no one knew who I was, what my interests were, how I defined myself, what I might be skilled at…and no baseball.
I told someone, “I’d like to have humility on my own terms—rather than having humility thrust upon me.” Wasn’t that a Shakespeare quote? Since I am in England and all, it seems appropriate. “Some are born humble, some achieve humility and some have humility thrust upon them.” I guess I’m the thrust upon them kind.
There were days when the first conversation of the day is dinner and I realized my favorite people are the porters at the reception area and the housekeeping staff.
Some shots from my surroundings. Being transported back in time, place, and identity can be beautiful and disconcerting at the same time.