In a world where time, productivity, consumption and demand rule the land and brain, people will always ask you where you’ve been, where you come from, what your roots are, and how it all began. Intuitively I respond with: “My mother’s womb, I come from a woman’s body, and she came from one, and I am of the earth…” Then they want to know where you are. I think “The milky way galaxy, fertile ground, the high five of the world, here… now.” Finally they protrude the thoughts with the inevitable “Where are you going? What are your goals? What is your dream?” And I think well of course I am going everywhere all the time. These questions are vague and at best can only facilitate organic answers.

Prologue

In Plato’s Republic he says: “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” As a writer I insist this is true. We must have a good setting, characters, and plot in order to succeed in entertaining a reader. Since the origin of my time on earth, my eyes have witnessed nearly ten thousand sunsets and sunrises, my feet have explored the terrain of several continents and I’ve dipped my toes in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes. I’ve climbed hills, hula hooped and played djembes on the meridian, danced with complete strangers, biked across the Brooklyn Bridge, shared my poetry on the radio, and received standing ovations from thousands of people from piano or poetic performances. I’ve seen dolphins rise from the Gulf of Mexico to greet the sky, fed llamas, cows and alpacas food from my hands, and played piano in weddings to celebrate the energy between two humans as it combusts and transforms into this thing they call love. I’ve canoed rivers, snow-shoed ravines, and slept in tents in the middle of bustling cities. I’ve seen the constitution, touched butterflies, snakes and worms, taught hundreds of people how to hula hoop, and nearly drowned in the Potomac River. I’ve conquered disabilities, and spent more than nine months of my life not walking at all. My entire life I have learned to adapt to being hard-of-hearing and a pending day of complete potential silence. And yet indeed I have played the pianos that once belonged to Van Cliburn and Vladimir Horowitz and sang in concert halls across Northern America and Central America.

I’ve religiously practiced my freedoms to publicly assemble and use freedom of speech in mass demonstrations for peace, justice, equality and freedom. I’ve danced until the sunbeams arrive in the morning, and stood with arms open wide while the rain is pouring. I’ve explored language, seen George Washington’s home, and read hundreds of books about poetry, people, history and living. I’ve witnessed performances by Dave Brubeck, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, Stevie Wonder, many symphonies, Dave Matthews Band, Allison Krauss, and hundreds of musicians. A lot has happened in places where I’ve been. But that doesn’t answer the question really, does it?

I started my academic pursuits studying music. I changed my discipline of focus from music to the following areas (in chronological order): practical writing, English literature, creative writing, linguistics, anthropology, environmental studies, and professional writing. I transferred institutions and finally graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing with a minor in Anthropology. I then began working for Americorps, teaching young children the value of friendship, respect, harmony and success while making close to two dollars an hour and living on food stamps. This job was in a Grand Rapids neighborhood that has a lot of section 8 housing and at-risk youth. This experience changed my life and helped me realize that I wanted to be in charge of something because many people do not treat others the way they would like to be treated. This bothered me because we are supposed to live in a land where all people are equal. And we do not live in this land. I do not know where the line of equity should be drawn and recognize the concept is nearly impossible but it is imperative to strive to do better, always.

In the end, I will simply say my life I began with the following: family, nature, music, smiles and books.

Current

Today I write this reflection essay (commentary? narrative?) in the final semester of my academic career. In April I will receive a Masters in Public Administration with emphases in Urban Planning and Public Management. I spent the first portion of my graduate program working with an organization called “Seeds of Promise.” This organization taught me a great deal about city development, social justice, public-private partnerships, and being the only female on a staff of men. It taught me to persuade city leaders and be professional, while simultaneously meeting former felons.

The latter portion of my graduate career has been quite rewarding and changed my path. Without even trying, I received an opportunity to work in the Provost office at my university. This position has been incredibly beneficial and I have learned so much. Helping plan the university’s future is fascinating and though it is not where I intend to remain, I see the perspective of the top of the pyramid, something I had never known. To plan what an institution’s priorities are is not easy work as there are thousands of people, programs, departments, buildings and books to keep track of, but it is important and the lessons I’ve learned are valuable.

This was an important transition in my life, as I’ve never realized how valuable my brain might be. I now know that what my actions, thoughts and ideas matter and my vision for the future will not go to waste. I remember that I can make a difference. It is a struggle to be an artist in this world and it is easy to lose your fire and passion for living. The work I’m doing now has transformed my introspective processes and given me something called “hope.” It is something I am sure I will struggle with again, but each time there is a struggle between light and darkness the light becomes stronger (that is, if it wins). Though death remains, growth persists.

I think today, in my life, my time consists of: laughter, music, dancing, hula-hooping, celebrating, swimming, running, walking, biking and thinking – in fact, a lot of thinking. The thinking often transforms into writing. I have filled over 50 hand-written journals, and filled numerous online forums. I helped write for a local citizen journal, The Rapidian and used to co-lead its politics beat. Most importantly, I compose and perform poetry and music. These are the most important things, although they are not yet professional endeavors, they are the gifts I have to bring to this world.

Horizon

When I look to the future, I see trees, water, books, music, sunshine and smiles. I see laughter, love, travels, adventures, and learning.

I don’t have a plan for the destination and am quite open to what things come my way. My current supervisor said this is a luxury, as many people are not open to or willing to explore the possibilities that the world can offer. I think this is something that is a blessing about my brain and although it may seem unfocused or unrealistic, it is who I am. I enjoy the exploration of living and prefer being lost and discovering the unknown.

I will, however publish a book of poetry by the end of the summer with a small publishing company. The title of this book has been decided but I still must narrow down which poems to use, and how to organize everything. I also have to decide on an illustrator. There’s much content to weave through, and it’s similar to wading toward shore after a long swim. The editing, revision, logistics and time will create this first book and I’m excited to have a self-imposed deadline.

So, why Public Administration, you ask? Well, I have always wanted to help other people. My mom is a public history museum exhibit designer, and my dad is a teacher. They both taught me it’s important to create things of public value. It’s important to serve and help others. I hope my writing can assist people and help them communicate their ideas. Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Many people struggle in sharing their ideas with others, and this hinders success at times. It is my hope that wherever I land employment there will be a way to be of use in the composition of thoughts and ideas. As the course textbook states: “everyone has a story – leaders just use their stories better.” Public Administration’s purpose is to improve the collective experience of people.

Many philosophers, old and new, emphasize language use in their writings. Wittgenstein states: “Our investigation is a grammatical one. Such an investigation sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away. Misunderstandings concerning the use of words, caused, among other things, by certain analogies between the forms of expression in different regions of language.” To find solutions to a problem, we must first learn what the other person means. To serve one another, we must understand our fellow neighbors and their stories. That is my goal and dream. Simply to sing and canoe downstream.

sincejan 1513

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