So it is my second to final night here at Upaya and I am antsy to return to my life as I once knew it. Since I have been here many events have transpired, some relating to home being: the near death of my favorite cat in the whole world, the collapse of the guest bedroom ceiling, the completion of my parents new master bathroom and, related to the completion of the bathroom, my parents moving out of my room and back into theirs because the danger of them being poisoned as they sleep is gone. However, the ceiling could collapse. Or my cat could die on their bed or something. In fact, perhaps it’s safer here.
But, like I’ve told friends and family, I am ready to leave, I’ve spent two fruitful, intense and personally fulfilling months here. And as I contemplate my homecoming and my back to Batescoming, I obviously assess the reason I came to Upaya in the first place: my research. I realize now (retrospection you are a fickle yet desired friend, the person at the party that you find yourself slightly disliking just because they are so awesome) that the notions of productivity and what my research was going to be upon leaving here were rather artificial and disembodied. I had this idea that I would come here and read this many books and buy this many books and write this many pages- it was all about quantity. And I didn’t read 13 books let me tell you. I read The Fountainhead which had nothing really to do with zen buddhism but more people being selfish jerks. I also do not think it exhibited the most affirmative feminist ethics either. But that’s besides the point. The point is that this was a novel and not one I foresee using in any part of my thesis. So understandably I went through a freak-out phase, labeling myself as unproductive and pretty much dumb because I didn’t measure up to these fallacious goals I had set for myself.
Luckily I have friends and luckily they are smart and so I was complaining to one of them who wisely pointed out that my day-to-day experience was as much part of my research as reading any text. All the questions I was asking myself, all the time I spent sitting, all the experiences of being a woman at a zen center will contribute and influence my thesis in profound ways. So my journal is just as valuable as my “academic notes”. And man, I’ve been through a lot here. And it won’t end once I leave.
If you see a blonde girl carrying around a meditation cushion that will be me. I plan to continue my practice up at Bates either at home or in the Chapel. And I won’t forget this experience when I return to Bates to continue my academic life. I strongly advise that before you beat yourself up over not being “productive” enough, that you reevaluate what productivity means to you. I believe now that it can’t necessarily be quantified or measured by tangible objects like money and such regardless of what our lovely American culture would have us believe. And perhaps the next time I can’t get a paper in on time I’ll make a powerful argument about how the skewed notions of productivity are engendered in due dates and because of that they oppress me.