The next time I write some bullshit post about how sad I am or if you catch me allowing myself to wallow in insecurity and self-pity, please tell me to shut the f#@k up.
Why can’t I remember that for every day I allow to melt into a morose mess, there will be days like today when I can’t help but notice the sheer perfection of my life?
Today was magical in its ordinariness.
I taught a group of thirteen year olds the power of pacing and music when making a short film. It was a simple concept, taught simply, understood and executed minutes later. The kids were engaged, excited and working with passion and purpose. It’s moments like this when you wonder to yourself why and how we make school so complicated.
I caught up with colleagues and email and started to make my back to school to do list. I wrote my parent news letter and general got caught up after a break.
I worked with Martin tying to map out our last few weeks with the Daraja GC. Things are looking a bit vague and confused, but the kids seemed interested in doing whatever needs to be done. Now to see what they (we) come up with to showcase our action part of our service learning. Forces beyond our control have altered our course and we will adapt and move forward.
I worked with Anne Marie in a coaching session to try and improve my craft teaching kids reading skills. We completed a very simple and pragmatic task. Simple. Done. Next step?
I met with Off Tangent, the literary magazine I run with a group of thirteen middle school kids. I had a moment of panic because our launch date is May 3rd two session away. I was sure that I had dropped the ball and we wouldn’t be ready, but after our one and half hour session, I was blown away by their dedication, hard work and efficiency. We will send the manuscript to the publisher tomorrow, marketing is ready with posters and other media for promotion, and the launch party committee did a nice job of mapping out our venue and getting ready.
This is what school should be like- A small group of kids, with little guidance from a teacher bringing to life something that would not exist without their collaboration and love.
I was reminded that when I get down on myself for all the things I get down on myself about, it is good to remember that on any given day I might be feeding the fire in the hearth of a future author, artist, activist or film maker. My seemingly mundane daily activities might have lasting effects on hundreds of kids.
How else will the world change?
How else will tend these fires?
The work we do as teachers, every single day, is heroic and important. It is crucial that we do not forget that, or devalue what we do.
I came home and put in some vital work on my novel. Reading a writing book, I started to outline my protagonist's dilemma- which is her strong desire and false beliefs. I finally began to explore some structural possibilities and the dead end I was feeling a few days ago, is suddenly a wide open road of possibilities.
Maybe I am not worthless and talentless. Maybe I do know what the f$#k I am doing. And maybe I don’t, but forty three years and I’m still following my own path and figuring it out.
Years ago, whilst living in NYC, one Halloween I dressed up as fat Jim Morrison. I wore a weak beard and stuffed a pillow into the shirt tucked into a pair of black leather pants. I followed the party around town and felt like a fraud, because while the girth and the beard were meant to showcase some kind of wisdom, I was still a youngish man, wearing a pair of aviator ray ban glasses at night in a city that never sleeps.
But tonight, as I looked into a mirror I saw a beard and an actual gut that was real. I was no longer wearing a costume. I have some how become my authentic self. Staring back at me from the mirror was a face I have been looking for since the darkness of my youth.
He knows some shit and he is figuring the rest of it out.
Wow, I'm sick of doubt
Live in the light of certain
South Cruel bindings.
The servants have the power
Dog-men and their mean women
Pulling poor blankets over
I'm sick of dour faces
Staring at me from the TV
Tower, I want roses in
My garden bower; dig?
Royal babies, rubies
Must now replace aborted
Strangers in the mud
These mutants, blood-meal
For the plant that's plowed.