Friday, May 29, 2009
From UGH to A-HA!
Woke up this morning feeling UGH. Actually, it didn't happen right away. It happened over time, after Dylan left for work with many smooches, and warned me that Aviva seems a bit off today. After I checked my cell messages, which I had been putting off for a few days, frankly. After I realized it's likely going to rain so I won't bike my brand new Raleigh bike, purchased last night, downtown to do errands. UGH. It hit my chest in an almost palpable way, though maybe the realization of it felt more like that - certainly the actual sensation built up over time.
At first I felt the familiar "fine, whatever, I feel shitty." Then followed by, "hey, wait, you have things to do, you can't just be depressed." Quickly a voice kicked in "that's no way to treat her when she's sad! back off!" and the littlest voice, under the "fine whatever's" said "i am a crappy teacher."
Yesterday was my last Face to Face with my Junior High School kids. The "Jerkitis" group. They weren't even in full form, but my heart was definitely not in it. Some even had the gall to say they learned nothing in the class. I didn't care. Didn't even pump it out of them. We played story games and when the kids who always inserts zombies and AK 47's into a story kept doing both, I didn't stop him, not even in the school library. I let the popular girls use each other as characters, and didn't try to compel the shy ones to participate. "I haven't changed them at all," I thought, despite having a great conversation a couple of days ago with a friend about how neither of us cared to nor really understood the role of revising from our arrogant rough drafts until college. "They haven't learned to revise or give good feedback. They think it was a waste of time." The most dominant of the bunch, the one who threw a fit when others changed her name around online, she said, when I actually asked if any of them had suggestions for the class, that I should make it just "educational games" all the time, mocking my set up for the last Face to Face.
Now, I write these things and I think - so what? Of course I didn't change their lives that much. One can only do so much online for nine weeks. It's like any kind of Bodhisattva-like activity: you don't know the karma of what you are doing, you do your best with the circumstance and someone else will carry the torch, or not, and you have no control over that. So what if noone of the kids turned out to be my super-special ones, who can both write and act like adults? This time my tiny part listened. "Oh, I guess you do have a point." This wasn't defense speaking, this was truth. "Hey, Miriam," it said kindly, "You done real good. The teachers said so, and lots of the kids did learn a lot. And it's done now. Let it go." And the tiny voice said "Ok."
A-HA. A weight about a mile deep and ton-heavy melted right off my chest. Huh. That easy? Not entirely, I still feel gooky and confused about the less-structured work ahead I have put off for weeks. That's the mix of liberation (in my mind I picture a wildflower mix with bits of peat moss in a package) - some growth, some stagnation. Lots of space for all of it. But the crappiness isn't hidden anymore, it's on the surface, breathing out with the rest of it. So for now, much more workable than underground self-judgement. That's the real A-HA here, and the source of the original UGH. The primordial UGH. Take the plot away and that's always what it is, isn't it? I'm not good enough (thanks, Stuart Smalley). A-HA - maybe there's no such thing as not good enough.