New Directions

The Prologue Year

Identifying the Starting Point

. . . I was taught the art of land navigation with a map and a compass, and over the years, as I grew competent at navigation, I developed habits that kept me from getting lost.  The most important habit was the precise establishment of the start point.  The use of a map involves rudimentary geometry, and all of the calculations you make are based on your original estimation of where you began.  If your start point is off, none of your subsequent calculations will bear any connection to reality.  Happiness is like that.  The work we do to find happiness flows from the manner in which we have defined ourselves.  To begin, simply shift focus.  When you experience conflict or discontent, stop and get a sense of your start point. What are the original calculations that have brought you to this point?

–Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga

For some time now I have been discontent with the direction that I have been heading.  In the aftermath of the end of my engagement, I experienced a powerful feeling of freedom.  The only problem with that freedom was that I had no clear idea of what to do with it.  As I began to take back control of my life I started reestablishing important relationships with the people who were most important to me; family and friends who provided much needed support at the beginning of my new “single” life.  This provided me with a sense of stability.  After having spent much time in isolation to some degree from these people, it felt necessary and satisfying to recalibrate my center within a community that cared for me and wanted to support my steps forward in life.

Secondary to finding my place within my personal community, came the permission to explore things that I felt I did not have the time for in my life before.  I had previously prioritized family, work, and then, eventually, my relationship to my former fiancé, not always in that order.  With the end of that relationship, I reconnected with my therapist and decided it was time to focus more inwardly.  I felt powerful taking outwardly small actions that were inwardly extremely, personally fulfilling.  Even just deciding to take one or two days out of my week to play recreational volleyball allowed me to carve out a space of time that was self-focused and healing.

It has been two years since my engagement ended, and in the past few months I have begun to re-evaluate my professional goals, or rather, I’ve had a reawakening of these professional goals and passions.  I have always wanted to go to graduate school, but could never quite put my finger on what it was I wanted to study, or exactly what pathway I planned to walk professionally.  But in the last few years I have been inspired by numerous things (which will be explored in later posts in this blog under the category Notes from Life, The Prologue Year.)  

Sketched image of a map compass with a geometric compass inlaid.
“Compass.” Artwork by Kristina Friedgen, pen and watercolor, 2018.

Today in my yoga class (yoga is another one of those self-focused, healing activities I’ve begun to carve out time for in my life), the teacher, Christa Sperry, began with a meditation and read the quote I’ve included at the beginning of this post.  The passage struck me because I’ve recently been very connected to the idea of “direction” in a navigational sense.  About a year ago, I stumbled on The Minimialists podcast.  In episode 36 “Focus”, Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss the concept of goals.  Josh comments, “Instead of goals, I prefer to have a direction in which I travel: if you’re searching for a sunrise, head east; for a sunset, west.”  I have always been a very goal-oriented person, but sometimes goals can become anchors, especially as you fail (which is, I acknowledge, a part of the progress), but also as you find that what you identified as a goal might not in the end be a goal.  I am reminded of that quote often used on classroom inspirational posters,

Reach for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

–Norman Vincent Peale

Again, in that yoga class today, Christa Sperry continually emphasized the idea of focusing on the journey over the destination.  While I personally have a destination in mind, and even an idea of the likely “stops” along that path, I’ve begun to accept the fact that I cannot control every outcome in life and therefore I cannot commit to only one plan of action.  Instead, I must cast my net out wide in many directions–all of which will hopefully create a pathway toward that ultimate destination–some of which will be more direct, while others will be more meandering.

As I reflected during and after my practice today on Rolf Gates’ description of navigation, “if your start point is off, none of your subsequent calculations will bear any connection to reality,” I began to meditate on this idea of a start point (Gates & Kenison).  There are so many moments and ideas that led me to this moment in my life.  A moment which feels like I’m standing on the precipice of the next chapter of my journey.  It is an exciting time, but also a moment that I want to savor and delve into before I leave the past fully behind me, which is why I have started this Prologue Year blog.  Before I head off in any direction toward my ultimate destination, I must make a careful study of my start point.  This will mean analyzing the foundations of how I’ve come to where I am currently: a happily single, sister/aunt/daughter/friend, and relatively in demand theatre educator and director/choreographer who has become more interested in using theatre as a tool for community building/engagement and social justice.

So . . . in summary:

  • Ultimate destination
    • more job opportunities in theatre/education/community engagement
    • a new city to explore and live in
  • Intended “stop”
    • graduate school to study Applied Theatre and/or Performance Studies
    • new environment
  • Purpose of this blog
    • initially: to explore the starting points that have led me to this moment in life
    • secondly: to analyze the possible points forward from here
    • after that: who knows? By then, it will likely be time for a new reflection

I hope that you may find some inspiration or simply entertainment through my reflections and I wish you safe travels as you move in your own directions.