When I posted "Re-entry randomness" just after our trip to South Dakota, I was still trying to figure out how to sift through what I experienced, and definitely trying to figure out how to do something I'm not very good at: integration.
I don't know if you've ever had this problem. Here's the way I feel it: after I've had an amazing experience away from my everyday life (especially away from the deadlines and schedules of my job), and it has tapped into parts of my brain or self or soul that I don't normally interact with on a daily basis, I want to hang onto whatever it is I've learned as I go back to my everyday life--my family relationships, my friends, my job, my students. I want that wonderful or sad or moving thing to have some effect on my life, to press on it in some way, to shape it a bit differently. I don't want to leave behind completely the self I was as I made it through that experience; I want to bring that new self forward. I want to ask that new self to take part in the everyday choices I make, and the interactions I have with people, and the way I teach, and even the way I treat myself.
But it's hard.
Routine is such a trap, maybe a temptation. Sometimes it seems like it would be so easy to fall back into those routines and just do as I was doing before. Because it was working well enough, I was getting by just fine.
Except the gift of a "disturbing" or moving experience--one that makes you feel like you understand something in a new way--is that it makes you realize what seemed good enough just isn't, it doesn't fit anymore.
And for sure, what we experienced, just like each year I've gone to Rosebud, was moving--it moved us away from where we were, and to a new place of understanding or even confusion. It changed us somehow. And in order to honor that experience, we can't go back as if it didn't happen. That would be tragic, really, a waste of something precious.
We worked to help the Lakota people who are saving their culture and language and lifeways; we learned about oppression and despair and courage; we laughed and shouted and sang and cried. We opened up to what was in front of us, and to each other.
Surely that matters. Surely we can bring that forward into our lives back in Ohio.
My daily task, now, is to figure out how. And to support the other people who took that trip with me as they do the same. And, as it happens, to support Patrick, who has recently had a similarly moving experience and done some hard work and is also trying to integrate it into his life. Wow.
I teach at a liberal arts college; I knit; I spin. I live in Ohio, but part of my heart lives in South Dakota. And I think I left some of it in San Franciso.
You can contact me at kmporems at owu dot edu
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