The Zoey Blog: Fear and Loathing in Durham, North Carolina FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Durham, North Carolina

I was attending a Duke University Continuing Education whatchamacallit today, part of a National Symposium on Trauma, when the most unexpected thing happened. After a full day of group and individual work, the telling of our own stories, beliefs, and roles, and of unintentionally pulling in an audience of peers, I found myself centered out by the presenting physician and administered a sound chunk of praise and admiration. Our subsequent, and lengthy conversation (the first of it's kind for me and a Duke alumni), filled me with pride and purpose. I came to the training to learn more, and I left feeling quite certain of a good many bits of knowledge that I already possessed. The good doctor asked me if I'd be interested in helping them with a study, that is, if my employer would allow it. The study has a complex explanation, needless to say, but involves school age adolescents and flips and flops around grief, trauma recovery, and addiction. Sounds fun doesn't it? As much fun as it probably doesn't sound, the work and it's affiliation with Duke's School of Social Blah be blah is at least as much esteemed as it is astonishingly not fun (which I don't believe it to be in the very least). Eventually I accepted the offer, with a firm handshake (and the knowledge that I hadn't signed a damned thing), and will be arriving at the practitioner's assembly tomorrow morning with what is surely the look of envy on the faces of my peers, and an awkward hesitation about where all of this fits in the make up of me. Don't ask me how exactly I got centered out for this opportunity. I don't fully understand. The task is for me to somehow try to comprehend that once again (please don't say I told you so June) I am regarded as something I feel very strongly that I am not, which is far beyond competent and experienced, and it is my weighty and unfamiliar task to learn how to enjoy the honor and opportunity. I'm not so good at that.

Duke...really? What will I tell Aimee? I actually kind of loathe Duke. Apparently now I'd better learn to curb that heinous sentiment. It really seems quite surreal.

Before I accepted the chance, I must have looked equal parts skeptical, fearful, confused, and/or all of those things, and when I explained my perspectives about what it is that I do, and summarized them with a bold statement about not being sure that I wanted to become all of this...that I was very comfortable doing rather than fully understanding...with a little bit of bullshit about the integrity of ignorance, the good Doctor pulled me aside gently and said what is nearly the most profound thing I've ever had uttered to me. He said, "Brian, understanding will give you the will to do what you don't think you can, and I think that somehow you believe that there is a lot that you can't do." Then he fell silent and waited for my least I think he was waiting for my reaction. Uhmm, wow. He then continued in a certain effort to abate my silence (and I'm working my ass off to paraphrase accurately), " You put your soul on the line for the young people that you work with and care for, and make no mistake about it, you care for them. Why? Why do you do that?" I didn't have an answer. I hate professors.

"Hiding behind your fears of being something that you don't believe you're capable of being, he gently chastised, "isn't honoring that, it isn't helping the people that you're working with, and it isn't doing justice to the perspectives that you've shared today."

I found Jeff shortly after the day was all wrapped up and only a few people left lingering, I vigorously shook his hand, and said, "I'd love to get involved." He smiled and said, "I already emailed my coworkers about you. You're already in."

Wow...what a day. I think I'm starting to like Duke. Sorry Aim.


Blogger June said...

I won't say 'I told you so'. It definitely does not have the impact compared to what the Professor said to you. Wow... Thanks Professor. We don't test our limits enough and I believe we need to. Talk about 'opportunity'! I can't wait to see where this goes!

July 13, 2011 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Aimee said...

Eh, Duke still sucks!

I hope you KNOW that you're a better person now for having just been AROUND Duke people, OK?

July 13, 2011 at 4:53 PM  

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