Suspended Animation

It’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog I’ve wondered if I should just start over. But then again, I’ve been silent for several reasons, many of which relate to what it’s like being in this new world of Tijuana, the State Department, and family change.

When I began the blog, I intended to post periodic updates about our family adventure as Mark started a new career in the Foreign Service. But back in January, the “adventure” became a rocky road, and we’ve spent most of our energy since then addressing a private family struggle.

We are OK, and the adventure does and will continue! But for several months I’ve felt like I have been in a state of suspended animation, waiting on changes that I do not and cannot control. As a family we have been waiting, of course, for our struggle to ease. But suspended animation is also common for other reasons in the Foreign Service. We arrived here in October 2014 and waited for three months for our belongings to arrive (they were sitting in a warehouse in San Diego, pending approval from the Mexican government). I’m still waiting for a security clearance to start a part-time job at the consulate (it’s been four months, and this is apparently common for family members being employed by the State Department at embassies and consulates — we are generally at the bottom of the list in terms of priority for clearances). Because of our family distractions, we have yet to explore Mexico as we had hoped, and I have put off studying Spanish until my schedule is more predictable. Then there’s the weirdest “wait” of all — we have barely arrived in Mexico and now know where we’ll be moving for Mark’s next posting because of the State Department’s way-early planning process for moves to other countries. Dominican Republic, here we come. In two years.

Paradoxically, much of my work as a therapist in the past has been around helping people  to leave that “stuck” place of suspended animation so they can make the changes they want in their lives. But for the last few months, I’ve also come to appreciate how much is to be learned in these stuck places. Wendell Berry wrote about this type of learning in a quote I discovered in my 20s: “It comes in its own good time and its own way to the man who will go where it lives, and wait, and be ready, and watch. Hurry is beside the point, useless, an obstruction. The thing is to be attentively present. To sit and wait is as important as to move. Patience is as valuable as industry. What is to be known is always there. When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it, it is by chance. The only condition is your being there and being watchful.”

As we continue our journey, wherever and in whatever state, I will keep you posted.

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4 thoughts on “Suspended Animation

  1. So very glad to see you here again. Consider your good fortune: at least your next posting is to a country whose primary language is Spanish – You won’t have to learn Urdu or Farsi. There ARE silver linings! Now get to that Spanish class. BTW, have you ever taken French or Latin? If so, just use logic and you can learn Spanish with little difficulty. Spanish sounds exactly like it looks! Well, except for ll, n with a tilde above it, q; ll is y n w/ is ny (like nyah nyah) and q is hard C without pronouncing the following U – Now the X – well, that depends. I so entirely envy you with the opportunity to be learning a new language, a new culture, and a new geography. Hope you will get to where you can enjoy it in an unfettered way.

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    • I was doing pretty well with Spanish when I was initially taking lessons, so I’ll get back to it! Now that I realize I’ll also need it for the Dominican Republic, there’s even more motivation …

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  2. I JUST HAD A JOLT OF CONCERN FOR YOU LAST NIGHT & woke to this post! Embrace the slow. Only fools think life is a race and I hope you now have some familiar things to comfort you. GOOD to hear from you!

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