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This is a difficult post. I started it this morning and let the day unfold around Robert Browning Hamilton’s poem. I sensed it would be a day of both pleasure and sorrow.
I resigned from my teaching position. I won’t go back next year. There is nothing calling me back now. My heart has a special place for Stony. It is not a school. It is more, a community where people meet, greet each other, and learn together. That faded and I leave while I still hold the goodness and richness I found there; my narrative untarnished.
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.
I learned the most about who I was and about what was important to me through loss. I almost resigned a year ago, but Kathy, with her uncommon common sense, convinced me, for various reasons, to return. I am glad I did. I looked forward to work each day and learned with this small group of students. I completed grieving about the loss of a one of a kind school, “but, oh! The things I learned from her/When sorrow walked with me.” Last year was the wrong time to leave. I would have remembered only the bitter and not tasted the richness of the fruit this journey bore.
John Kabat-Zinn said, “Find a Job with a capital J. Stop doing other people’s work.” I would add one small caveat: complete the journey before you exit. Leave nothing behind and look back only at the good that came of it. Know you served well those you met on the path. Hold your head high.
Anne Sexton wrote this wonderfully provocative poem. I am unsure of her context for the poem, but an elegy is a lament or a mourning for something past. As with anything, when we grow past the love and passion for what we do and the compassion for the people we do it with it is time to take our leave. I want to be remembered as ‘gracefully insane’ or eccentric. I love learning with my students and their families the second greatest reward I can receive. The first is learning with my family. I think, in both cases, I could be called somewhat ‘disarranged’.
Teaching is a place of great creative for me and fills a whole in the hole of my soul.
Oh my, Anne Sexton discovered and chose great words for teachers.
In the thin classroom, where your face
was noble and your words were all things,
I find this boily creature in your place;
find you disarranged, squatting on the window sill,
irrefutably placed up there,
like a hunk of some big frog
watching us through the V
of your woolen legs.
Even so, I must admire your skill.
You are so gracefully insane.
We fidget in our plain chairs
and pretend to catalogue
our facts for your burly sorcery
or ignore your fat blind eyes
or the prince you ate yesterday
who was wise, wise, wise.
Mark Nepo writes:
Beyond family or the culture and religion of our birth, life will lead us to discover the lineage we are a part of, the circle of kindred spirits that nourish our soul. The difficulties of living can often make us put this lineage aside to deal with trouble first. I've done this and found myself lessened for putting what matters last.
always have a smile on your lips
even if your burdened heart
wont allow you to laugh
you can never tell
when sorrows will overpower you
and you will ache
for those moments when you had
the chance to smile.
always try to love
everything around you
if not one to one
for you never know
when darkness will come sneaking…
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,