Friday, April 5, 2013

Ample Space to Breathe

Albert Bierstadt
We in the field of education are lucky, about one thing in particular: vacation time. Some think the life of a teacher is easy. No, it is not. In fact, I would argue (and have argued, I think) that the months during which we work are more intense than those of many occupations. The fact remains, however, that we do get some nice, extended stints of time off. This is good.

I've been on Easter Break (it's okay for me to say that, because I work in a Catholic school -- I recall reading once, in a piece by Dave Barry, that he found it strange that kids in public school, at holiday concerts, were only allowed to sing about the weather) and, this morning, it occurred to me what a wonderful thing it is to wake up and not have a destination to reach or a pressing thing to achieve, at least immediately.

I know -- nothing profound. But what might be profound is this question: How would the demeanor of the world change if we all could, at least, awaken under these conditions? What if we had hours, each day, before needing to go off to work? -- time to sit with the family and have coffee? -- time to take a leisurely walk with the dog? -- time to read a chapter or two? -- time to pray or meditate? -- time to lie in bed and watch the sun move across the bedroom floor?

Imagine if the uptight intensity of the whole world came down a notch or two.

Well, I'm off to read on my couch. Maybe after that, I'll work a little more on my new drum set, to get the sound just right before the weekend. Then, maybe some games with the boys...some time outside...

On Monday, I'll go back to my job as a vice-principal, where, no matter what decisions I make, I'll wind up a fool, in a certain percentage of critical eyes; where the pressure of maintaining the status of a private school will be a twenty-four-hour-a-day burden that is constantly thwarted, even by those who don't know they are thwarting it -- maybe especially by them.

And back to a 5:30 AM alarm clock, jumping up and going into full work mode by 7:30. (Heck, today I didn't even get up until nine...)


  1. Do you know Philip Larkin's poems "Toads" and "Toads Revisited"? It appears that you can find videos of Larkin reading them on You Tube.

    I do not envy you your day job. I did not dislike the vice principals of my schools, but I always supposed that they were there to keep me in line.

    1. No, I don't, George, but I will have a look.

      Fortunately, I have been able, in the school setting I'm in, sort of define the job on my own terms. In our school, I am not the disciplinarian and I am more responsible for academic record keeping and teaching...what?...inspiration and leadership than monitoring employees. I'm not good at that. Still, one often has to make unpopular decisions...or, maybe worse, decisions that are controversial on the surface that one is not at liberty to explain -- the explanation of which would make things perfectly clear.

      Good to hear from you, as always.