The Year of Living Chaotically
Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote has been among my sources of inspiration for years because it shone a light on my non-traditional educational path and my specific athletic goals. I knew who I was and where I was going:
I am - or I was - a figure skater, a dancer, a college student. Now, perhaps, I am none of these.
But, in the year of my graduation from UC Berkeley, in a skating season bookmarked by a serious case of mononucleosis that wouldn't quit and a shoulder injury that I prefer not to dwell on here, interlaced with too many other injuries and problems to count, the absence of a well-trodden path took on a new meaning. There was no longer a path. The ice had melted under my feet and I was submerged in a roiling, stormy sea. Since I only knew how to skate on frozen water, and had not learned to walk on liquid water, it was proving difficult to leave a trail.
In retrospect, the physical moves of that year also seem fraught with metaphorical meanings. My skating partner was from Ukraine and struggled with adjustments to life in America that I imagine many immigrants, Ukrainian and others, understand. We moved many times. With each move, my belongings were condensed into fewer boxes and our housing became more temporary. My support system was challenged, as some that I had trusted imposed their own demands and goals on an already difficult situation. I stored my clean clothes in one cardboard box and dirty clothes in another, or maybe it was all mixed together; I lost things along the way. In short, pretty much everything came unhinged, like "Un-Homed" from another Cal course. (The meaning-filled cardboard boxes are here.)
To abuse a line from "Game of Thrones," "The [Boy] is No One." Or, is he?
Throughout the year, bits of the nascent project that is now "Baba Babee Skazala" kept surfacing, not so much like a life boat on that stormy sea, but more like flotsam or jetsam, bobbing to the surface after the shipwreck, hinting that hanging onto it might lead to a shore and that, having birthed this project as a proposed culmination of my undergraduate experience at UC Berkeley, this "opportunity to extend and reflect upon [my] undergraduate work," would not be silenced, even without that award. (I'll tell you more about how this project connected to my time at Cal in a later post.)
As one of the figure skating coaches I most respect told my father when first coaching me, "the fog is lifting and I can see the shore." When I reach the shore, I will create a new trail, and I am excited that "Baba Babee Skazala" is part of the journey.