Connections and Pacifica

Two weeks ago, the Pacifica Alumni of Texas descended on Austin for the first ever Texas Alumni event. It was fascinating to connect with a new calibur of Pacifi-peep (as I call them). Some graduated in the Nineties, while some are still working through their dissertation. The weekend began with a Friday night reception, followed by a Saturday strategizing event (i.e., how to make the Alumni Association a viable group in Texas) and a High Tea for prospective students. The weekend left me with a couple observations that easily become reflections on my own experience of Pacfica Graduate Institute.

One is that, regardless of one’s personal experience, Pacifica works you. The school is attractive because it is not a degree mill. The environment, from the faculty to the landscaping, invites and practically requires each of its students to engage in self work. This can be both good and bad, depending on one’s frame of reference, which is why I never lightly recommend that anyone goes to Pacifica if they have any questions or doubts about whether they want to go.

And there is the flip side to this. Pacifica will raise anything that is buried in what Jung calls “the shadow.” Any negative, unconscious beastie that is lurking in the depths of our unconscious will be brought to the surface by Pacifica. As you can imagine, this can cast a … well, a shadow … on any memory of the experience or influence what we do with our degrees after leaving the school.

But here’s the thing that the Alumni Association reveals: we are not alone. During the coursework, we spend a week in California, get energized and jazzed, then we come home and the Pacifica Go-Go Juice is slowly drained away by our everyday lives. Once the end of coursework comes and we return home to start working on our theses, dissertations, and/or internships, something about that connection that got us so excited in the first place feels severed. Some Pacifi-peeps start grasping at anything they can to try to reestablish that connection to the school, the faculty, and the cohort that has become like family.

So when the Alumni Association announced that it was ready to launch, I really wanted to get involved with the planning committee, but was nearing the end of my dissertation. Supporting the regional coordinators was the better choice. Being involved in almost every step of the planning process to last weekend’s event was really fun.

Overall, the weekend went according to plan. It was informative and energizing. I’m fascinated by the amount of baby metaphors that were passed around over the course of the weekend. That we were gathered to “birth the baby” and that we needed to “nurture the newborn.” I haven’t decided yet if everyone was really running with the metaphor or just expressing an unconscious response to my pregnancy…