Woke up this morning thinking about Sally Yates—how standing up to President Trump seems to have dramatically influenced the course of her life, how I’ve watched part of her emotional transformation through social media, specifically Twitter, and how her public narrative seems to reveal and confirm things I’ve suspected about the nature of personal meaning and career.
She seems to be undergoing a kind of emotional rebirth. As someone who works primarily in the emotional mind—emotional intelligence being the primary resource for teaching and doing creative writing—I have learned to recognize when someone is emerging into a deeper, more meaningful emotional life. She certainly is, even if only by a slight degree.
Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning consistently seems to prove out: it doesn’t matter what we do or where we are as long as we can find or create meaning for ourselves. And so I return to the question of my own career, my own meaning. When I think back to the teaching I have done, I’m faced with the choice of believing that most of my professional life has been meaningful vs. meaningless. Obviously, I prefer to think my work has made some kind of difference.
It’s hard to believe in things I cannot see, but I have to nurture a certain degree of faith in the teaching and writing I’ve done. Sally Yates, someone who has lived primarily in the analytical mind, is now at the beginning of something new—one hopes, something emotionally significant and transformative. To see someone publicly come into being like this is to bear witness to a largely unnoticed dimension of human experience. It’s something that sincere teachers get to see more often than any other profession.