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Albert Einstein

via Albert Einstein

Mrs. Vee offers a quote from Einstein and a headshot. The quote suggests imagination, which is unbounded, is more important than knowledge, which is limited in scope.

Those who educate provide “images for [the] imagination and for forming…memory….to grasp the ‘circumstances’ [we live in] in their infinite variety.” I use the word educate purposely, as each of us learns in settings other than schools. Schools are formal places where a particular agenda is followed.

Over the last few months, I struggled as I transitioned from having taught and wanting to teach. I define myself as a teacher. I taught one term at a small, private, Christian-based university. I applied twice for a tenure track position and have been ignored both times. I think there are multiple things at play and will deal with three. First, others my age are ready to retire. They say things like “I worked to get to this stage.” I understand teaching as a calling, so never worked to get to this stage. Second, it turns out, in the eyes of some, I am the wrong kind of Christian. I am Catholic, yet I am probably, in the eyes of many Catholics, the wrong kind of Catholic. Third, I limited my imagination. I think this is natural. I have not been here before and have few images for imagination. I only knew myself as a teacher, limiting the possibilities of what I could do and who I was still becoming.

The last point is essential. I mentioned this in the last two posts. I have been writing and am invited by others in to collaborate. I can imagine myself as a writer. I don’t know what kind of writer and what other doors it will open up. But, I have been here before.

Kathy reminds me frequently that “when one door closes, another opens.” What I have to recall is I do not know what will happen as I walk through the new door. I can imagine it and, with imagining, new worlds open up and hope exists.

Mount Robson 1 August 2019

This is the front side of Mt. Robson. I have never seen the backside. I can imagine what it might look like based on what I see and what I have read about it. There is a glacier and lake on the mountain. Based on past experience (history), I can imagine sitting on the edge of the lake, like I can imagine sitting and writing the next poem, article, book chapter, a book about teaching in the best little school in the world, etc. I get to imagine my life, so I don’t have to be the right kind of anything for administrators who can only operate in binary terms.


31 responses »

  1. You know, Ivon, sometimes, just getting out of our own way is quite a monumental challenge. Listening to and following our hearts is a wonderful way to see what may yet unfold. I was recently given a prayer by Thomas Merton. Here are a couple of sentences from it; “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself…” It came at the right time for me.

    • That is the challenge. The writing projects and inquiries have been interesting. Others approached me, asking if I wanted to join in. Then, the small university I taught at had a presentation and the idea of vocation came up, along with inflection points in our lives. I thanked the presenter at the end for giving me clarity.

      I love Thomas Merton. I return to his book No Man is an Island to explore the meaning of vocation and calling in one’s life. Thank you Carrie.

    • Einstein was an interesting guy. He had facial hair, unkempt hair, did not wear socks, and was generally pretty eccentric. I used to tell students he could have been my dad. They used to ask which dad I was referring to: my biological dad or my symoblic dad.

  2. Love it just remember as the door swings wide to dart inside ❤

  3. You might want to think about labeling yourself as_____________ or_____________ and just be someone who does those things. Labeling puts you in a box. I’ve done a million things just because I believed I could. I have a bunch of labels but I don’t really think of myself as any of them, even though I’m all of them.

    I know you need to label yourself if you want a job, but to me, labels are like a prison sentence. It only shows a fraction of what a person is and if a person identifies only with one label, that’s what the person becomes and there’s little room for anything else.

    The exciting job could be one you never even dreamed of doing. If you just look for things you can already do…you just end up doing the same thing all the time.

    Did you ever think that the fun could come from trying weird things? Things you never even thought of doing? Look in different places, for different things. That’s the way to grow. That’s the way to find the fun and wonder in everything. Just do it and never limit yourself. Start over and over and over and you will be amazed at all the stuff you can do.

    Don’t be afraid. Never be afraid. Just step off the cliff. The reason you didn’t get the jobs you applied for was because the universe wants you to do something DIFFERENT. It’s pushing you to stretch and get out of the label you’ve made for yourself. Thinking about why you didn’t get them is a waste of time. Who cares? The universe didn’t want you tho have them. Let it go. Step off the cliff and know that something will catch you on the way down. It always does.

    You aren’t a TEACHER, your a person who can teach. You’re a person who can do anything you really feel like doing, if you don’t LIMIT yourself.

    Turn what you believe about yourself upside down and loosen up. Stop looking for clues from other people in books and decide what YOU think. Those writers don’t know what’s good for you. Only you know that. Who told them what to do? They’re just other people with their own problems. They don’t really know anything. At least anything about what you need.

    Think about what YOU want and then go and get it. What are you actually looking for? You need to be able to answer that question or else just wing it. That can work too.

    Have fun and all good things will happen.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  4. Search carefully for the things you love to do or the things you enjoy thinking about. This is where your heart needs to be at this time in life.

    The time is too short to do what someone else thinks. We need to look within ourselves and find that special ability we have to an example to others. You will always teach by the things you say and do whether you are employed in an educational institution or not.

    Most of all, enjoy each day!

  5. No matter who we are, the riches man in the world or a pauper what is around the next bend is unknown

    That space rests us because how we see ourselves may melt away to something else

    Our goal is to be open and resist labels right now

    A label is very meek and shallow compared to who we are

    I am in transition and before I meditate I ask for ideas, ideas outside the box that I have not been aware of

    Happy traveling

  6. a very thoughtful and candid post, Ivon. Thank you for sharing it with us.For one reason or another, I think many people over 50 are having similar thoughts. I had plenty imagination, and plans, then a little thing called a car accident came along, and my life this past decade-plus has been the exact opposite of what I imagined. So I find myself trying to reimagine my plans and my future, but I am glad about that. For so many years, I couldn’t.

    • Cynthia, I think you are right. We live in a much different time than previous generations and do not feel like being discarded. The key is to, as another person commented, find new things we can learn and be good at.

  7. Thanks for more good things to think about. I really think your example of Mt. Robson is good. I’ve stood in front of that mountain many times and tried to imagine what the other side looked like.
    Plus, also being born a Catholic and then starting to attend Protestant churches in my mid-teens put me in a similar situation. I didn’t give up every Catholic belief (nor did I feel the need to) and I did not accept every Protestant belief. But I think I may have been more fortunate than you because I found a huge amount of love and acceptance from my blood family and my Church family. However, I have been the bane of many a Bible study leader. He he he. 😋
    Thanks for sharing what you know and think. Keeps me going beyond the confines of my own mind. Sincerely, LL

    • How we were raised remains with us. John Dewey proposed the concept of reconstruction is deciding what new is integrated and what old is discarded. This is all a pragmatic adventure, where we decide based on wisdom, ethical understandings, and practical needs what to adopt and what to discard. Pragma came from the Greek meaning a wisdom we gain as we age. We embody the way we live.

      • Hmmm. So many NEW things to think about the older I get and I still haven’t fully worked out the older ones, like “nurture vs nature”. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, so certainly neither am I. And I’m going to last longer than they did. So I deeply appreciate your input, insight, and perspective. LL

      • Both nature and nurture play roles, sometimes one more than the other. Mom used to tell us we each have free will to choose how nurture plays a long-term role in our lives.

        I keep learning. I used to tell my students when I learned something new. I hope it helped them understand life is in constant motion.

  8. You can be anything you want to be. Limits are just that. It’s nice to be able to do something well but it’s even better to do new things that stimulate growth and open doors and windows. There is no such thing as failure, there’s just things to try and learn. You’re intelligent but that’s not all you are…find out what you can do. Maybe you’ll love what you find and if not…keep looking. That’s what make life exciting, the never-ending things we can find.

  9. I know this exists, this prejudice against older. Yet in teaching, who better suited to share their deepened wisdom? Perhaps, Ivon, your calling is not in a traditional framework. Good teachers are desperately needed everywhere. 🙏

    • I agree Bela. What I see in Alberta and Canada, more broadly, is we worship at the altar of what is bright, shiny, and new. We spend a lot of time listening to people who were never in the classroom and, if they were, could not get out of it fast enough and become a consultant. I am looking to figure out where this takes me. I am hopeful it will take me somewhere unexpected.

  10. This is a great observation. You’ve very nicely stated what I’ve been feeling for a few years. Not quite done teaching, but definitely want to try writing for a while also.

  11. I’m with Kathy! Hope is alive and well…

  12. Pingback: A Grateful Haiku | Teacher as Transformer

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