Attending a planning meeting in Southern Iowa this week, I happened across these amazing spider webs on my morning bike rides before the day's formal activities began. I was very happy to get the chance to photograph the webs and share them as part of the story I get to tell describing the world around me. As I positioned myself to get the best angle, to capture the light just as I wanted it reflected, and to move in and out of focus for my desired effect I was profoundly moved, as I had in the past (see Strand 1
), by the metaphor of the web.
Here I was, at a planning meeting designed to build better programs to best serve people living with HIV disease--a role which I officially left in 2011. But I clearly hadn't left the role behind or I wouldn't have been invited to participate and I certainly wouldn't have been so invested that I agreed to trade sleep for late night dialogue and idea exchange in hopes that maybe there was an opportunity to be helpful. Like the spider web, time is not linear and at any given moment, all of one's experiences, pasts, presents, and futures are touching on a single plane.
But my role has now changed. Having previous experience being in the leadership roles now filled by the other dozen people around the table, I now have the privilege to serve as a consultant. It is a unique position to fill, and one that I quite like. But I will admit that I am still learning it. I sometimes need to catch myself, for example, so that I am not inserting myself in ways that are less than helpful. My past experience is certainly relevant, and my passion is unmistakable. But now my role is to move around the web, look at the intricate design from different vantage points, and even to jump down off of it for a moment to see and suggest the next tree branch or other supporting structure that may need to be woven in.
I need a bit of distance and to realize that if I busy myself with spinning more webs or fixing strands that have been stressed and torn then I will miss the opportunity I have to grow and be helpful in the new role I have been assigned.
“… things which don’t shift and grow are dead things. They are things the witchery people want. Witchery works to scare people, to make them fear growth. But it has always been necessary, and more than ever now, it is. Otherwise we won’t make it. We won’t survive. That’s what the witchery is counting on: that we will cling to the ceremonies the way they were, and then their power will triumph, and the people will be no more.”
-Leslie Marmon Silko in Ceremony
So at the end of this long weekend in which clarity and creative mania keep burning their way through a sleepless fog and then fade as my fears and sense of loss and other such "witchery" take hold, I find myself struggling to finish spinning this tale. And now I realize, yet again, the beginning, middle, and end of a story, a career, a life are just conventions. And so it pleases me to do away with this last convention, this ending that would suggest there is such a finite thing.