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Joining the Circus

Yesterday, this poem by Mark Nepo found me. I was checking some emails and a site I subscribe to had this poem on it.

For the first time in 30 years, I will not teach and/or learn in formal way this fall. It crept up on me. Yes, I want to teach. I prefer that to joining a circus. In a sense, I am joining the circus. The theme of the poem is how to deal with ups and downs in life. I applied at several universities and received one interview, but came up short.

My challenge is what will we I do in lieu of teaching in some conventional way? As Nepo says, I ready to kiss anything as I hover like a mystical molecule between one stage and another. Like the dozen beginners, I am learning how to juggle and have to begin somewhere.

Each day, I focus on reading and writing and hope to publish in academic journals.  A colleague suggested I write and shed a different light on teaching. As well, I may take some of my poetry and bundle it together in a book. Perhaps, my smile will be so magical I will asked to teach something I did not expect.

I just saw a handwritten note from

Galileo. He was under house arrest

for believing we’re not the center of

everything. Now behind me, in the park,

a dozen beginners, of all ages, learning how

to juggle. We have to start somewhere. The

young man who’s so magical at this is asked

to instruct. He smiles, “You have to keep

trying. Just not the same thing.” Earlier,

I leaned over a letter from Lincoln to a

dead soldier’s mother. This, just weeks

after losing Susan’s mother, sweet

Eleanor. I keep saying her name to

strangers. You see, we all have to

juggle joy and sorrow. Not to do it

well—we always drop something—but

when the up and down of life are

leaving one hand and not yet land-

ing in the other, then we glow, like

a mystical molecule hovering between

birth and death, ready to kiss anything.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

19 responses »

  1. Thanks for this Ivan, do join the circus of your own creation–we all have to go with the changes and flow. I found a lot of gigs dropped away this year, and I have to remember to create what I need to, to keep on doing my thing and pay the bills…good luck.

  2. I hope whatever you need finds you.

  3. I do understand the hovering between right now. I was unfortunately in an accident last week where a lady came out from a side road and sent me to the hospital with a concussion. My car was totaled. So not only do I have aches, pains and memory loss, but I need to find a new car. The house I rent is being sold due to a death in their family, so I have to find a new place to live as well. I have faith that whatever I need will find me. I’ll see if my smile will work!

    • Hopefully, things work out well. I feel your pain. I was in accident several years ago and suffered a concussion. It is such an odd feeling to know you know something and cannot remember it.

  4. ‘Perhaps my smile’ … Thanks Ivon. Your marvellous posts always cheer and make me smile. You teach so much, to so many, simply by being you. Joy and peace for you and yours ~ Simon

  5. beautiful and excellent! ❤

  6. It’s all been said, Ivon… I really enjoyed this very pragmatic post. All the very best to you.

  7. Wishing you the very best

  8. Pingback: Joining the Circus–Teacher as Transformer: | By the Mighty Mumford

  9. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


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