I'm mesmerized by a sculpture I walk past twice a week on my way to and from a class I'm taking on Friday afternoons. It's of a man, blindfolded, with a hammer in one hand and a chisel in the other. He's carving himself. His arm is raised to strike again at the rock that still comes up to his knees.
It's a powerful image - the notion of self-creation, without a road map - the self in progress. It speaks to what I would characterize as an overarching theme of my life - maybe even an obsession. This is my human condition, though it occurs to me that perhaps not everyone experiences life this way - in fact, that is a privilege to have the luxury of creating oneself, or that one might be perfectly content to live life without the constant agitation and unrest caused by a fascination with self-discovery and improvement. I suppose the piece is aptly titled and located: The Entrepreneur, standing in the courtyard of the College of Business at the University of St. Thomas. (Though my liberal, tree-hugging self loathes the association the title creates.)
I've been kicking around the idea of going to graduate school since 2001. I'm increasingly glad that I didn't jump straight from my B.A. into a random advanced degree, but now I'm just spinning my wheels, stuck in what I believe to be two distinct mud puddles:
1. FEAR. Including, but not limited to: fear of entrance exams; fear of rejection; fear of committing financial suicide; fear of being competitive with classmates; fear of making the wrong choice; fear, frankly, of leadership roles; fear of the time commitment and stress level, etc.
2. INDECISION. Once, I wanted an MFA in writing. Now that I've fallen in love with a young and growing nonprofit, and in dedicating myself to things that benefit other people directly, here are just a few degree considerations: Law; Business Administration; Public Policy; Nonprofit Management; Organizational Leadership; Public Administration
Or any combination of at least two of the above, likely requiring three years of full-time academics.
It's a funny thing about the sculpture I mentioned...you're not worried that the man is going to miss and take out a chunk of his leg. He has no obvious deformities indicating that he has ever missed. The self is. There's not "wrong". There just is. Your self. Your creation. What you do, and what you don't do.
I went out for drinks with two dear friends of mine after class yesterday, and we discussed this concept. How more often than we would like, our drive for ideas and accomplishments we'd like to make is thwarted by fatigue after a hard day at work, or by other priorities that come up, or by television. In an ethics class we took several weeks ago, we discussed the difficult decision of whether you continue toward your goal at any cost, or whether life happens and your goal is changed.
Do you strike again, or do you stand still?
Why is that even a question?