Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Looking Before I Leap: Another Year of Pearls

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an
end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” (T.S. Eliot)

It's funny just how true that quotation is this week for me.  Beginnings are endings.  Endings are beginnings.  Both all at once; the two interwoven like some cosmic morning glory, snaking its way through each day.

It's the last week of August.  My summer vacation has officially ended; another school year has officially begun.  Lazy days of leisure, where making my wife's lunch for work was the grand accomplishment of the day, are gone. 

Once more, I reluctantly "walk the plank" and jump back into the world of work:  meetings to inform, meetings to inspire, meetings to meet new people I haven't met yet and to meet those I've met already;  a million things "I've gotta do now" (and no time to do it), and an ever changing whirlwind of current educational-ese I'm supposed to become an expert on yesterday (proficiency based grading, "scaffolding", "unwrapping the standards", formative and summative assessments, rubrics, relationships, and "raising the bar").  It's no wonder I feel like I've just let go of the tire swing called summer, and done a big loud bellyflop into the ice cold water of work!

But the beginning is also quite likely an end.  This may be my last year teaching, so it's sobering to reflect and realize that each of these experiences that I grumble about and try to scurry past will be the last time I do them.  Perhaps I should try to slow down a bit this year and savor the end of the long and winding professional road that I've been on.  That would be a worthy intention.

It's also the 2nd anniversary of when I began writing this blog:  another ending, another beginning.  So what "Pearls" did I glean in the past 12 months?
  • I didn't write as often as the first year, and I struggled with that.  I know I need to just commit to setting aside a block of time, regularly, each day to write.  Just an hour.  No Facebook distractions.  Don't have to write a masterpiece.  Don't even have to finish a thought - can come back later and finish.  But just write.  More.  More often.  The rewards will come.
"Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." (Francis Bacon) 

But at the same time, I was very proud of the 17 entries that I did write.  Some of them were great surprises to me in the depth and creativity that they expressed.  Each of the following were highlights for me:
  • The fun I had with words in writing stories like "Nature's Rebellion" and "A Meeting of the Minds" (leaves saying "It's humiliating to becoming hummus!"; the curmudgeonly journalist arguing that writing should be "Short and sweet.  Like a tweet.  Nice and neat.  Don't repeat.  Take a seat.  Complete!")  I love how writing opens me up - even amuses me, while it teaches me.
  • Two poems that I wrote, both inspired by Love.  One a Valentine to my wife ("One Is Greater Than Two") and one to my mother ("Waiting For A Whisper").  I am deeply blessed by the gifts of Love that each of these beautiful, strong women have given me time and again.  Their love inspires me and strengthens me.  "All that was in you, is in Me.  And I in you.  One is greater than Two."
  • The most valuable entry I wrote this year?  It was also (once again) the most difficult.  "A Promise Kept", the entry I wrote after my cat Buddy died in January, was heartbreaking and painful (still is when I read it).  But it also was cleansing and a comforting tribute, and farewell, to a dear companion.
  • The biggest surprise?  What I wrote in "The Most Important Lessons"!  This entry, in which I wrote about what were the things I really hoped I had taught my students shocked me - not sure why.  I guess I didn't know that's what I thought - until I thought it! "Be Curious.  Be Humble.  Be Courageous.  Be Honest."  I actually went on to make copies of that entry and shared it with some students who had made last year so enjoyable.  I hope I continue to model these things to my students this year.
So, here's to another year of beginnings and endings.  May I remember to let pass that which is passing, and be open to all that is being offered to me.  And I hope to continue to use this blog to discover the little bits of magic, and Pearls, that Life hides all around me.

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning." (J.B. Priestly)

"On y va!"...Off we go again...on the long and winding road!

Me hiking up Cape Perpetua on my last adventure of the summer

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