In one of my favorite novels, E.M. Forester’s A Room With a View, a father tells the protagonist to help his son, not by falling in love with him, but by showing him that next to the eternal question of WHY, the universe is writing an answer: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
This past week, I worked hard to secure a full-time tenure track position at a community college where I already work. I didn’t get the job. I would be lying if I didn’t admit my pride was a little hurt or that I was a little disappointed.
In the end result, I’m glad. Before each interview, I spent a lot of time sending the message out to the universe: Whatever is best for me, my writing career, and my family.
I honestly thought that the universe would favor the what is best for my family part of that phrase and thus give me the job so that I had a more secure salary that is twice what I currently make. Not because I honestly thought that was best but because I figured that’s what everybody else would think was best.
Yes, yes, yes, I was sending messages out to the universe. Sometimes I call the universe God and sometimes I call God the universe. I realize this makes me sound like a fruitcake. So okay, I’m gonna be a freaking fruitcake! I don’t know what else to be anymore!
Here is what I realized: the universe has rewarded me with the what is best for my writing career part of the phrase. No full-time tenure track position equals more time to write for me.
Dear Universe, I am sitting up, taking note, and I will comply. I will use this opportunity to focus on my writing career.
All week, I have been thinking about the sangoma at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban (Westville campus) who told me that my big sister—the one my mother miscarried, the baby that a random sangoma in South Africa couldn’t possibly have known about but in fact, she did know about it—was watching out for me, was sitting right beside me (she sits exactly the way you are sitting, she is that close to you), and “she wants you to own yourself, own your own time. When you get up in the morning, she doesn’t want you to belong to somebody else, for somebody else to have ownership of your time.”
Yes, I am a fruitcake who lives in northern California who believes what a sangoma in South Africa told me. But I knew that sangoma was telling me the truth. And I knew what she meant instantly. Because that is the job of a writer: to own your own time. It’s what I’ve always wanted.
Thank you, Cosmic Yes. I’ll embrace this gift you are sending me.