Most mornings when I first open my eyes there are a few glorious seconds before I remember COVID 19 or the world in stages of lockdown or the sinking worry or the inherent isolation that edges us all inward, but then I do remember, and those disparaging thoughts instantly deluge any happiness I felt looking out the bedroom windows and wondering what joy this summer day might bring. In blended hope and resignation I attempt to lift myself out of despair through daily rituals. Onto the mat, moving through Yoga with Adriene, generally is reminder enough, but if I still can’t shake the gloom, there is Ryan Heffington to dance me into the light; if all fails, there is the unmistakable natural beauty surrounding me, bringing undeniable gifts in the field’s wildflowers or our household gardens or the backdrop of the majestic mountains or any number of placid lakes which are all blessings I can’t even count but perhaps can share with you all today. I invite you to stroll along. Stop and peer up. Take a breath. Dive in with me.
Often I end my school year on a high, feeling each student’s gain as my own, each of their successes intrinsically linked to my doing. Well, perhaps that is a bit egotistically, but I do work very very hard all year long, meeting students where they are, and helping them make steps toward their goals, so often I celebrate their favorable results. Equally true is my sense of loss when they don’t hit the mark.
But this year, there is no meter or measurement that could calculate as it once did. While in dismissal, so many students worked through remarkable challenges to attend google meets whether on their beds, on a Spring-time sunny deck, sitting in isolation while in noisy kitchens, or even driving in a car, and often times with confusion and worry etched into their faces. Yet together we moved into unknown territory to find meaning and hope and the value in learning, despite uneven odds. There is little to discuss about school prior to March, as what followed was so unprecedented, but all the work I did (and teachers around the globe did) to keep students’ trust, to reenergize their enthusiasm, and to maintain consistent pathways for them to work remotely, were crafted and put solidly in place, and that speaks volumes. Students, many who were at first melancholy over everything they lost, gained strength from each other, from this new community, and worked diligently until the end. I am proud of their integrity and resolve.
As I drift along on my daily walk, the one I started during this sheltering, passing by a large expanse of water and sky, I am reminded of how slowly change comes, and when it does finally happen, it’s due to a ferocious wind driving everything out of its path. I thought of my father today, on my parents’ wedding anniversary coincidentally, as he would remind me when I was frustrated with the lack of protections afforded queer people like me, and he would state some statistic like, “just remember Oscar Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency in 1895, not that long ago, and look how far the world has come” he would add. As sweet as his history lessons were the demands of today call for vast sweeping changes effective immediately. It is not enough to recant one’s prejudices or apologize how we got here, instead, it is time to kick into the cracks and bring down the shoddy notions of the past. Racial or economic or gender or sexuality or religious or any differences can no longer dictate who gets what in this one world.