Classes for this program just officially finished up this past week, and now we embark on the open, unpredictable seas of working on your own project...well, on your own. It's like taking a sailing course with a bunch of other people. You each get a small, individual basic sailing vessel. At first, you're all reasonably close together in the water. Someone on a larger, easy to see boat is yelling orders to you from a central vantage point and you are taught to raise the sail, haul the right lines, and not crash into each other while at the mercy of the elements on the ocean. Then, eventually, it becomes a "free sail;" they let you go, and you start moving in whatever direction is appealing to you (or maybe whatever direction the wind happens to be taking you).
So, what happens now? Well, you've got to take what you know now and go for it. This is what you showed up to do ultimately anyway, isn't it? You're going to go off in your own direction. Some people you'll never meet up with--they were more attracted to the harbor in the other direction. Some won't go very far at all, and if you're intent upon really going on out there, you're going to leave them behind. Then again, there are going to be a couple of people who you may lose sight of at first, and then later on, you find again a little farther along in the journey--perhaps people you didn't expect to be there. And then, of course, there are the people who want to go to the same place you do. Some of them are aware of it and stay fairly close by, others are also aware and make an attempt to sail a different route on purpose. Regardless of who or what is around you, one thing remains the same--it really is you in that boat on the water, and you're going to have to expect to find yourself alone out there a good portion of the time.
One of the biggest contradictions is the idea of a "community." When you're thrown somewhere with a bunch of other people, you inevitably create a community through that shared experience. What happens when those common elements disappear? Maybe the point is effort-based--this means that you're going to have to take common bonds, common experiences, and then create opportunities to sail side by side for a little while. Someone may turn off on the way to explore something that doesn't appeal to you at the moment, but that doesn't mean that when you spot them on the horizon again, you won't point your boat in that direction and sail on over. You aren't side by side anymore desperately trying to distinguish between the tiller and the rudder. You know what those are, and you're off to discover other things in other places with new knowledge of the trade. However, in the end, you are all doing the same thing, albeit in different places and by different rules--you're all going off to find something. Maybe it's worth remembering that no matter what the differences are, that common basis remains the same.
So, as we all sail off....let's hope for a good sunset.