My breathless life

I had a goal of publishing poetry when I came to Stanford. So far, six poems, written during my courses here, have made their way into the wider world.

I did NOT have a goal, however, of singing on stage, becoming part of a lakeside tableau vivant, creating impromptu live art with a choreographer from France, or engaging in “interpretive stillness” in the engineering quad with a woman in a purple bodysuit.

But by March 1st, I had done them all — some for paying audiences, all for my own pleasure.

Hiking in California

Michelle Holmes and family hiking in California. photo: Michelle Holmes

Some things weren’t planned: putting practice next to Michelle Wie, bumping into bluegrass music by the sea. Life has unfolded out of doors. I toured vineyards, hiked high grassy hills, and drove the glorious coastal highway with my teenagers in tow.

Even here in California, though, I did go inside now and then: into the Graduate School of Business, where I blogged a State Department conference on sustainability. Or leaping across a deep pit in the world’s most advanced virtual reality lab, or sitting at a seminar table with Condoleeza Rice. Sometimes, I was stunned by my surroundings even inside four walls — like hanging out in the Hoover Tower with a member of the Council on Foreign Relations or listening to 14th century choral music in the magnificent Memorial Church. 

Life moves fast here. Some days it feels almost like careening — or like I’ve been set free in a room with hundred dollar bills blowing overhead and just one minute to catch as many as I can.

Wednesdays, at our Knight Seminars, I sprawl out on a leather couch, drink a glass of wine, and try to catch my breath.

Perhaps that slowing down is the biggest challenge. 

Considering the things that I have done as a Fellow seems overwhelming — and that’s before I even talk about the chance to spend a year with incredible, talented, generous, fellow-Fellows who are offering me new ways to think about journalism and the world and sprinkling it with deep kindness and friendship.

Suddenly, I don’t spend my days with people I “manage” — I have a group of friends who are also on a life-changing adventure, also free from the pressures of “regular” life to push me and challenge me and amuse me and provoke me. I’ve made friends with undergraduates, and formed close bonds with my instructors.

I’ve loved this life — to argue with my fellow-Fellows, to e-brainstorm on a Friday night, and to drink before noon (it’s Pacific time!).

I’m not commuting 100 miles a day on a Chicago freeway anymore. I’m riding my bike down a palm-lined drive. Every day brings a chance to be thankful for what’s been offered to me.

Maybe this blog post feels breathless and run-on and too fast and almost-too-much. But after seven months here, that’s the measure of my Stanford Knight life. Now, as spring closes in, I’m prepared for a new intensity.

Along with Fellow Deepa Fernandes, I’m building illuminUS, a new tool for modern, mobile journalism. It’s a huge task — I won’t be golfing and won’t be acting in the months to come (unless you count the new role of “Entrepreneur”). In my next post, I’ll talk more about how our work has its own excitement — bringing us together with passionate thinkers and scientists and journalists in our quest for better stories, more voices and a strong future for journalism.