I have had this song in my head because this week I will be
another year older and deeper in debt. I am not in debt because I am a slave to Company Store so much as Sallie Mae. This was a choice, and sometimes I even try to frame it as a privilege but other times I know that no matter how awesome my education might be and whatever it might give me later on, I will be paying for it for a very long time.
I (have to) believe that my education is worth it. I know it is a privilege to sit here with a pile of books and write academic papers and that one day I will have some more letters after my name that might somehow qualify me as someone who knows stuff. I believe what I believe because of habit and because I was raised this way and only recently have I started to even fathom that some of my largest and most hard-line beliefs are not even my own. My life has bent me in all kinds of ways and I like to think it was because I am well informed or engaged in the political process, but I am beginning to see holes in this logic. Last night as I read my son a few chapters of The Alchemist before bed, I am realizing it's about time I start tuning in to what really makes sense to my own heart, or my own personal legend.
I am not in the desert with a teacher trying to help me manifest my personal legend as the protagonist in the story is. I am just another mom in graduate school, working at a nonprofit trying to do what I can to live the best life I can and sometimes I say I want to help others maximize their potential too but I think most of the time I just try not to be a jerk. Sometimes I fail but I am going to keep trying.
What I am coming to believe these days is that I have to have the awkward talk with whomever it is. I have to accept my debt as a lesson in patience and reciprocity. I have to listen to my own truth even when the loud voices around me are clamoring. It's election season and all I can think of is this:
A prophet once came to a city to convert its inhabitants.
At first the people listened to his sermons, but they gradually drifted away until there was not a single soul to hear the prophet when he spoke.
One day a traveler said to him, “Why do you go on preaching?”
Said the prophet,
“In the beginning I hoped to change these people.
If I still shout, it is only to prevent them from changing me.”
— Anthony De Mello in The Song of the Bird.