There has been another off-campus shooting. Another VSU student who was a sophomore, is dead. The heat index was 103 on Tuesday, my heavy class day. My new classroom has no wifi. Usually by week week three of the semester, things start to gel and I get into my rhythm. Not this year. I feel sluggish. I don't have an appetite and I am having trouble sleeping. I am grieving.
I recognized this as grief as I started class on Tuesday by telling my students that death was on my mind. Not my death, necessarily, but the deaths of two young people. While I never met Matthew Gibbs or Adreonna West, I still grieve for them. I also think of my friend Dr. Fritz, as I pass the door of his office nearly every day. Thoughts of death are lingering and I am wondering that perhaps this is not a bad thing. It means I am in an inquiry.
I told the class on Tuesday that my inquiry about death has led me to consider what it would be like to live a day as if it were my last day alive. I told them that I would dedicate this last perfectly lived day to the three people who have left this world so suddenly and that has left me so sad. I ended by saying that since today was going to be my last day, it would be the best lived day of my life and therefore, this class would be the best taught class of my life.
I now start class with an inspirational thought, an affirmation, guided meditation or prayer. With my eyes closed I don't monitor who is joining me but that day, I did hear them. They breathed in, held it and breathed out with me. When I opened my eyes, we all seemed calmer and began the topic- The Nerve Impulse. Since there is no wifi in the classroom, they pulled up the book on the Blackboard app using their phones. On the last day of your life, it is easier to work around technical difficulties.
Obviously it was not the last day of my life but I must confess it was a good day. It was a day in which I was much more aware of the frailty of life and more thankful for just about everything, including and especially the young people that I serve as my students. Today I am still feeling tired and burdened. It took a lot of energy to keep a last day's intention. So, since I recognize that I am grieving, I am giving myself grace. I self-authorize myself to care for myself. During this period of grief I am self-authorizing myself to: work from home; take naps; delay opening emails; read a magazine; do nothing; sit at the park and look at flowers; take a long bath; visit grandson; and order take-out, among other things.
The term self-authorization recently entered my life through the person of Laura Dorsey-Elson at Morgan State University. I never knew how much I needed a word. Self-authorization was exactly what Father James Solomon Russell did when he decided to start St. Paul's college. The driving force behind St. Paul's college was not the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Episcopal Church or any other worldly entity. The closest thing to Self-authorization is God-authorization. In fact, I now see them as the same thing. That's just my definition.
This is Laura's "the literature on the concept of "self-authorization" is thin...my knowledge of it comes from some of my system/unconscious group dynamics work with authorization and where it comes from. The focus, Self-determination or self-agency are akin to the concept of self-authorization"
The way I see it, self-authorization also starts as an inquiry. Like living a day as if it is my last day on earth. I could instead live today controlling what I can control- which are ONLY my own thoughts. I can grant permission to what is occupying my consciousness. I can stop and consider if these musings are friend or foe...the information helpful or hurtful, encouraging or stress-provoking. I have the power to decide when to listen to the demands coming from the outside. However I must also have the discipline to create space for the inquiry on the inside.
So today, I self-authorize a quiet, steady and calm mind. I want to bring that to my writing.