23 August 2005

left behind or going forward?

All my friends still in college are starting to shift into Orientation and then to classes. The patterns and rhythms of beginnings that happened every year are so ingrained in me that I can't really let go. Even though I've graduated, I don't feel graduated. I don't feel like I'm an alum. Things are moving on without me, people and groups will change, time will move on in that place.

Colleges and universities are changing places. People come and go, just as I entered and then left when it was my time. But I can't quite bring myself to let go of the place and the people and the structures that defined my life for four solid years.

I know that this will eventually happen, when the friends that I'm close with leave in their turn, and we all gradually move into a new world, where life is defined on different terms. There will come a distance, which isn't necessarily bad, as we learn the patterns and rhythms of our new lives in the workforce, at other schools, in new families, or in returning to our parents' homes. We'll find new ways to be who we are in other places.

But the process isn't easy. I want the comforts of a familiar pattern, but because of going forward in my life (albeit within the fairly formalized structure of education) I have to change, to grow, to develop at a pace that is not my own. As glad as I was to graduate and leave, I miss what I had. In three weeks, I'll begin my own orientation, my own new life. I can then find my rhythms, my bearings, a new community to structure and frame my experiences. But in the meantime, I feel left out or left behind, by my going forward alone.

These moments of liminality are hard, aching, and difficult. I'm on the cusp of something new, in the very threshold, and all I seem to do is look back with fondness and with sadness at leaving instead of looking at the way before me, the opportunities that wait for me to discover them. I'm captivated by the past instead of embracing my future, at least in this moment.

I'm hoping to find enough balance that I can look fondly backwards while equally being enthralled by the future. Maybe I need an internal rearview mirror.