Here I am in Ann Arbor, at the annual Institute for NASCO, the North American Students of Cooperation.  The organization is largely focused on student co-ops at universities, but also includes community co-ops and food co-ops and worker-owned cooperative businesses.  I’ve had a roller coaster of a day — I presented a few workshops with the lovely Sky Blue (author of the article I posted here yesterday).  They went okay; some folks were inspired and others not (they fill out evaluations afterwards).  After presenting the workshops I got into a major mind spin around the work that I’m doing in the world, wondering if I’m “earning my keep”.  I have so many opportunities and possibilities to take advantage of (class background, college education, public speaking skills, the commune) that allow me to support my life through presenting workshops and sitting in meetings and doing a few hours a week of physical labor in the garden and tofu hut.  Is the work I’m putting into the world really valuable enough to the world that it provides for my basic needs and desires?  Especially with leaving the commune, my oasis of non-oppressive living, I fear that I’ll fall right back into the mode of benefiting from my own capability to navigate through a system that is at its core oppressive.

blech.  All of this has been up for me in the last few weeks.  And now being here at a conference focused on the cooperative movement, as I’m stepping away from living cooperatively.  So yet again, I’m asking myself “why?”.  I’m passionate about cooperation and collaboration!  Why am I moving my life specifically away from that?  Grad school?  I don’t know.  I’m wanting something else in my life, more connection with the larger world.  Is grad school really going to provide that?

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