The story was an important one in the context of the women’s movement but not for the purposes of the account I’m about to relate. What matters is the context of the reading that took place here at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
We are an eclectic group of 16 Canadian educators who have come together to begin the long process of pursuing masters degrees in adult education. We’re in Antigonish to develop the foundations we’ll need to begin the experience. And, oh what a transformative experience it will be—if we open ourselves to it.
Right now, that feels like a big if.
With the process expected to take two to five years, all of us will probably work harder and longer at this than at any other professional endeavour. Most of us will probably succeed in obtaining our Masters in Adult Education. And that’s a big deal. Such an accomplishment will no doubt open new career opportunities, deepen our understanding of adult education, and make us experts in the topics we choose to study.
An unknown number of us, however, will find this will be a transformative experience that will forever change us as spiritual human beings. We’ll be transformed by this process of self-reflection that is encouraged here at this special program at StFX—not necessarily so much by the research we do but by what we learn about ourselves as we study and learn.
I can feel it potentially happening to me already. Right from the first class five days ago, I felt the power of this possibility coursing through me as I gave a short presentation on my professional history that showed how I became the educator I am today and what I wish to be in the future.
As I displayed this journey through a drawing of metaphorical “life steps” into the unknown, emotion nearly overpowered me (see graphic). I wanted to weep tears of joy—so energized was I by sharing the blessed career I’ve led and the seemingly endless potential for my professional transformation.
I wanted to whoop, dance a jig, do a big group hug to celebrate who we all might become.
But I didn’t.
I gulped down my euphoria. I bit my cheek against those rising tears of joy. And I stuffed my emotion back into my deep pockets. Then, after finishing my presentation, I sat down without a word—and without giving out any of those big hugs I so wanted to proffer along the way.
Not until I started writing this blog entry did I realize that that presentation was my first missed opportunity to jumpstart the process of transforming myself.
Now that I’ve recognized this, will I find the courage to give myself permission to whoop with joy, dance that jig, squeeze out some powerful hugs, or perhaps weep unashamedly like my brave classmate?
I sure hope so.