May 8, 2008

Back on Track

"I found the key, but returned to find an open door." Pearl Jam

I haven’t worked for almost two months. No classroom, no lessons, no books, no students. Although, I have spent the last eight years interacting with teenagers on a nearly daily basis, I haven’t seen someone under thirty for over sixty days. What does that mean? Well about a month ago it meant a near complete breakdown of my psyche. I had woven my identity so intensely with my job, that when it was yanked from me, I flipped out. Coupled with anxiety about the future of my family, the episode proved to be a difficult one to get over.

In times of crisis we chose our battles and look for our crutches. Unable to disappear at the bottom of a bottle, I had to find alternative remedies. I look to Zen, and while at first the philosophy seemed to mock me and point out more problems than solutions, I think in the long run it helped me find this clear space. The lesson I focused on is this one: Take the middle road. When riding a roller coaster it is not wise to become overly excited about the ups, only to become disappointed in the drops. We have all ridden life coasters before and the important thing is to remember that, “This too shall pass…” no matter good nor bad, “This too shall pass…”

With my new mantra, I am now sitting in a coffee shop eating a tomato and mozzarella panini, listening to the Michael Franti, wondering where I went wrong. Why did I resort to what a friend referred to as “emotional outburst emails?”

At the worst of my troubles, I wasn’t strong enough to go straight to my Zen practice-simply sit and concentrate on the reality of the now. Instead I chose to publicly grasp at whichever emotions were available to me at the time. The fact that I wasn’t allowed to harness the anger I was dealing with in a public nature intensified the situation. I chose instead to deal with anxiety, self-pity, and confusion.

Enough of the past, I am here to present the flip side of the breakdown. I want to highlight my current state of mind. A few minutes ago, I was walking through a parking lot, iPod headphones making me bop as I walked. Things seemed to be working. I made sense. The sun was shining. I didn’t hate everyone I saw. Things were back to normal. I was hopeful.

I have been busy. Maybe I am filling the void with work, projects, and time fillers, but I need something. I have created a new classroom. I have reconnected with the people I need most, students. The sense of needing something to do has been enough to make this project at least appear important.

I have a list of video projects, podcasts, art projects, songs to record on deck to fight off my irrelevancy. Please don’t shake your heads, I can feel you thinking that I am simply filling my life with arbitrary projects, so I won’t face the fact that I am not happy with my current situation, but let me assure you that while this may be the case to a certain extent, I don’t know what else to do. I am looking forward to eating better, exercising, and spending the summer in Thailand.

Believe it or not, I have a million things to do, so I must go. I just wanted to touch base and say that I am fine and ready to move on. A few job leads are hot in Doha, but no need to get excited. I am taking the middle road and spending each moment as best I can.

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