That's a phrase I've often used to describe myself, or which I've used as a motto for myself when entering a new situation. "Hit the ground running!" It describes initial momentum, rather than stasis and acceptance. It's an attitude of strength, and of one of my favorite conditions "cultivated naivety". Let's just see what can be done, before I've had a chance to be weighted down by pre-existing notions of possibility.
But there's an often neglected aspect to the phrase. "Hit the ground running" presents the image of being in flight, of floating, of the liminal state. That ... is where I am now. I'm in the air ("up in the air" as we say), waiting for a landing. I can't start running 'til my feet hit the ground.
I'm not good at waiting. This isn't the same waiting I've encountered however these past couple years. Rather, it's not the same sort of waiting I've grown to inhabit during these past few years. It's not the hopeless waiting in a terminal for a train that I don't expect to arrive. It's not the waiting outside a loved one's hospital room for the inevitable news I don't wish to hear.
It's simply waiting ... for the time to be ripe. I watch the oranges on our backyard tree with impatience, but also with anticipation. They will ripen; that I can expect. And so will time for me. Thursday, I have my telephone interview with the interdisciplinary search committee at Miwla College. Thursday at 5:00, after driving back from teaching at Lemon University. I had asked for a late time, so I'd be sure not to have them catch me in traffic. Should I be Brutus or Marc Antony? In this case, I suppose I opted for the latter.
I was told there might be as many as 10 telephone interviews. I made the first cut. But I'm no longer resting my hopes on making it on the team. I've other things to do. This is just one of those options. And yet... I haven't rejected it. I haven't given up. I would still like to be offered the post. The best I can do--indeed the only true thing I can do--is be myself. It's odd, I feel that they (the committee) are in a more unenviable position than I.
While I wait for a landing, at least I know the destination of the flight. We can't yet decide the specifics, but the area is circumscribed. And I know, whether I get this post or not, what my research focus will remain.
In a sense, I'm not simply waiting for the flight to land. I'm waiting at the moment for the flight to take off. Two more weeks of teaching at Lemon, then finals and another week (or so) of grading. I imagine that the last few days of a prison sentence may present the prisoner with a certain euphoria in anticipation of the freedom (also of course an apprehension regarding it). Yet the bulk of one's time in prison will remain as it has been. I find myself in this sort of condition. I long now for my freedom from the oppression of Lemon University. (Though I recognize it is an oppression I have consented to.)
Rather dramatic perhaps. But I find I don't wish to be there. I'm done. Oh, I won't give out on my students. I'll still perform my lectures, and lead discussions, and prepare my handouts, and the tests. But my heart is already gone. Sure, I consented to the oppression. I also shrugged it off. I'm just waiting for the garment to fall. It's really a shame and a pity. The students deserve a professor who is fully committed. Too bad the institution has no interest in supporting instructors in cultivating and maintaining that commitment. Too bad our society so little values the efforts of teachers.
For now, I await the ripening.