Karen Cardozo concludes her 3 part series on developing new ways to “track” unexpected opportunities as you pursue your post-ac transition, based on Martha Beck’s new book Finding Your Way. See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.
It’s not easy: imagining a new life is a creative endeavor at odds with staid academic culture. As Julia Cameron wrote in The Artist’s Way, “the art of creative construction meets with scanty support, understanding or approval” in institutional contexts wherein “most academics know how to take something apart, but not how to assemble it.” Of course, deconstruction has its place – but that mode (as many an anguished dissertator knows) is incompatible with nurturing seedling dreams. This is what the Alt/Post-Ac transition is really about if you’re willing to go all in: relying on the full range of your experiences and intuition to Imagine your way to a new reality.
Interestingly enough, the more one begins to explore the wild new world, the less significant the categories “academic” or “nonacademic” appear to be. Wayfinders are not a job sector; we are everywhere. There are ethical and kind academics claiming their true nature by living the life they want in higher education, while some of their peers – although tenured and secure – are miserable, and take that misery out on their students and colleagues.
Then there are those who have left academe but can’t shake a feeling of failure and loss, while other recovered academics are living full and joyful lives. Of the happy latter category, some may feel that academic life was a temporary mistake that they have since corrected, but most see it as a necessary part of the journey that led them to where they are now. As a guru I know is fond of saying: “on the path to self-realization, there’s no right or wrong way, only a short or long way!” Wherever you go, there you are. And right on time, too.
Despite the worst of academic life with its committee meetings, deadlines, grading and April, the cruelest month, many academics hang in there for the seasonal cycles that allow us some precious time to pause. But even those who don’t hold faculty positions tend to take time off in the summer to engage in another important P: play. Beck insists that experimental play is the true “work” of the wayfinder and the surest method of finding solutions.
So get to it. Whether you are Ac, Alt, or Post, now is the perfect time to get your Ps on while also dabbling in some Rs—reading, reflection and rest. Explore the links I’ve provided and use any other means necessary to improve your psychological condition and clarify your life philosophy. But, remember, reading alone won’t do it.
Ultimately, you will need to drop into Wordlessness and experience Oneness to begin to Imagine who you really are and where you might be going. Right now, that might be the most practical and productive thing you can do.