It's like planning a garden. Or ... um ... making a complicated recipe ... or, maybe it's more like balancing the five elements. It's like anything that has parts which interact with each other, each retaining its own identity and having its own effects, and together making a thing which could not be made without the collection of the whole.

That is what my Augusts are.

The planning and adding and subtracting of elements, the envisioning and what-iffing, the discussions with the people who will be effected -- the balancing of the elements as I set up another year of my life. They seem to me to be balanced like a tire is balanced. These elements are the spokes of a wheel in motion.

The wheel has turned a full revolution since high school and that first college experience. The first time around, I planned for me. Then, for a short time, I planned for classrooms full of students. Then, for a longer time, I planned for my family - for my own growing, changing kids, while we lived at various addresses and during various times in our lives, absorbing all the shocks and bumps and surprises because that kind of planning is as much life planning as education planning. Now the kids are outa here - and the wheel comes around to planning for me.

Only, along the way, the wheel has covered so much ground that it's not the same. I'm bigger inside. More of me interacts with and effects and is effected by the world around me. It's as if the travel has added strength to the spokes even if the outer rims have sustained a bit of wear and tear. The elements matter more than they used to.

Water, wood, fire, earth, metal. Color, line, shape, value, texture, form. Parish, work, school, home, writing. The elements aren't static. They play with each other and threaten each other and feed each other. What they make together is a life. My life.

"The Interdisciplinary Studies program is designed with serious students in mind - students with eclectic interests, a clear sense of academic mission, and high expectations for their undergraduate experience."

It's August. The wheel is turning.

Did you know that there is a new model for the periodic table of elements? It's not a chart with blocks stacked in order of atomic weight. It's a galaxy in motion. That's what we are. People are galaxies in motion. The creator of the galaxy chart is Philip Stewart.
Philip Stewart decided at an early age that he did not want to choose between arts and sciences. After taking degrees at the University of Oxford in Arabic and in Forestry, he spent seven years in Algeria working in forest and soil conservation. In 1975 he returned to his old university, where for 31 years he taught Economics to Biology students and Ecology to Human Sciences students, occasionally also taking Arabic pupils.
Philip Stewart sees the elements like this. "The intention is not to replace the familiar table, but to complement it and at the same time to stimulate the imagination and to evoke wonder at the order underlying the universe."


(click on any of the images to go to their sources)

1 comment:

barb said...

Thanks so much for posting the link to the Galaxy of Elements. My son and I are studying Chemistry this year. What an intersting twist to add into our studies.

The quote at the end summed up how I am feeling about myself at this stage in my life.