Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the muscularity of risk

I think it all comes down to this: safety versus risk. Isn't that what life is all about?

Safety: a teaching job, a mortgage, a marriage, health insurance, a retirement plan, having children.

Risk: an MFA program.

I try as hard as I can to imagine myself in the future: What am I doing? If I squinch my eyes up tight enough, can I see what I'm doing, become a crystal ball?

(I love the idea of me in a musty office one day, books piled up to the ceiling, a manuscript scribbled over, coffee stains on the desk.)

(I also love the idea of me with finger paints on my fingers, crouched down on the ground with wee ones, my husband's hand on my shoulder, not fretting over an investment plan, simply being every day.)

Is there a way for both? Maybe not both-at-once, but both, eventually? I'm always so anxious for life to start when life is always starting, and restarting. It's not even that, entirely--just the knowing of what the next step will be, what shape I will make in the future.

Clarity has its purpose, its comforts. Knowing that I have options is good too.

CK Williams: "Risk." (Wish I could find the whole poem online, but there is a bit for you here.)


ck said...

It is indeed about risk. And about putting your foot forward to take a step when you aren't sure where/if it will land. I'm in a lab with a wise lab tech and he keeps saying stuff like, "What will happen is meant to happen," and, "You will get what you need, not necessarily what you want."

Best of luck with your deciding!

Lyz said...

I found your site from Seth Abramson's blog.

It's great to see how someone is feeling the same conflict I am feeling.

I think that getting my MFA is something I have to do before I have kids. Because I want to show them that education is wonderful and attainable and that we should be life long learners. It is also something I deeply want for myself and I don't think it's fair to interrupt that dream to have a child, not unfair for me but for my kids. As a child of parents who had their dreams deferred, I think achieving your goals is one of the best things you can do for a child.

But that is just me. And two to three years doesn't seem that long.

Jen said...

Molly, Molly. Take a deep breath. I know how you're feeling--when the decision seems so big, and you must consider it from all these different angles--but I promise you, when the acceptances (and the rejections) are all on the table, the decision will be much easier to make (or tough in a good way--as in, everyone wants me! What will I do!;). Most importantly, you'll have your husband to talk through it with you, to help you. It will be okay.

For what it's worth, I know several people who have gone the low-res route, and none of them have regretted it. I didn't because I was single, jobless, and pretty much free as a bird, but if I were going after my MFA now, I would absolutely consider it.

greenemother said...

I love your line "anxious for life to start when life is always starting.." I know that this is so cliche but, life is an adventure and you only get to live it once. Take the risk, because who knows how you'll feel after having a baby. Your priorities might change and what may seem important now may not hold the same value later on. Go for it. You won't regret it! Also, my mother did her PhD while teaching full time and raising me. Going through that with her made me believe that we can do anything we want, if we have the passion for it. Do your MFA now and PhD later on!:)