There's a poem by Taylor Mali (Taylor Mali's Poem) where he talks about the only thing he could envision that would make someone jump from a building was fire...until his first wife committed suicide from her depression. Then he says that depression too is a kind of fire. I'm not trying to minimize depression (I would never!) but I think writing, teaching and life are also a kind of fire. For me they are the things that push me out of my comfort zone into unknowns in ways I could never imagine.
I sit here the weekend before my classes begin and I feel unprepared and scared. My old students going off to college share stories about not being packed and ready...they are nervous about this life change. I am not ready for my new batch of students. I feel hesitant for the life changes heading my way this year too.
Teaching. I love my old kids. I love who they are, who they became before my eyes. I put so much into my day-to-day teaching, getting to know them personally so I know how to teach them individually that I'm exhausted by March. Especially if the kids are having a struggling year.
I'm not sure of what other career is like teaching in this regard. Each year I get a new batch of students. Some love school, some hate it. Some can read and write like they were born doing it. Some have been told they aren't good at it...so they believe and stopped trying. Some have so many issues going on at home that learning Shakespeare is just way beyond what they can handle right now...even though the Bard might be the one to show them that the world and life is cyclical...badgoodbadgood and not with many absolutes. And I feel my job is not only to teach English and literature but to also either show them how they are connected, or to reconnect them, to the world around them and thereby show them they are also responsible for the world around them.
So here I am on September 1st getting nervous and upset as I think about the new people I will have to try to teach. And this year with the new core standards and new teaching evaluations my 'job' has just been twisted into something that is not quite the kind of teaching I do. So my plan? Continue with what I do and try to squish in what the state SAYS is core and important. What's core and what's important is the CORE of the student, the humanity...and I'm hoping that as I jump off this high building and begin to run my marathon sprint (how I describe the school year) I have what my students need and I have enough energy to do it all.
Writing is a kind of fire too. I want to be so good at it. I have all these stories that chase me down the supermarket isles and pop up in faces of pedestrians as I drive my chores. But for this summer my keyboard has been silent. I planned on tracking down my Facebook statuses so I could compile them..a sort of bio of the past few years. I planned on getting the first draft of my young adult story done and contacting possible agents. I planned on starting the children's story and the mom warriors book and weekly blog posts. Blah, blah, blah...I did none of this.
Without writing I'm disorganized and cranky. Yet, I stay away until I'm at the end of my rope as I try to figure out how to best assimilate my day-to-day life with my need to write ( I treat it like a luxury instead of the lifeline it really is)...and my need to write always seems to slip down the list of things-to-be-done after everything is completed...and everything is never done...so it seems as though writing has to be made into a kind of fire. I need to jump off that high building and see if I can fly on the way down...because waiting until it fits into my day, or I have time, is just not working.
And my mother's passing has made me reevaluate every priority I ever had. She thought she had plenty of time..she was buying Christmas presents....Sigh. You don't want me to reopen that vein right now, this is long enough!
So, here Sept 1st as the whole family embarks on transitions...
Chris is continuing his grad program Chris' website post
and Nick begins a new job at the Baergarten;
and Roger cuts back on his second job (weekends only);
and Kath begins kindergarten --integrated into a regular education class (while still struggling with toileting issues);
and Alex begins 3rd grade wanting to continue and up dance classes to 2 nights a week, run cross country, take a gymnastics class, take piano lessons, and so on;
and I start back to school in October for a massage therapy program (their part time/two year program);
I guess the best thing for me to do is jump and hope I learn to fly as I do. Afterall, this is all Life (and good stuff) and Life is a kind of fire. Here we go! Wish us success!