There are moments in one’s past that stand the test of time. They shine while all the rest muddies. They remain as beacons which set the bar for all your future achievements. Sometimes you know in advance, other times it is only in reflection, but those moments grow roots throughout your life and cannot be disentangled from who you are, ever. Receiving my MA from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English is such a moment for me. One for which I read and wrote and thought and worked harder than anything to reach. Of course there are many people who steered me to that pinnacle, but there was one woman who did so through her own extraordinary passion to enliven and enrich the learning of every student, whether we were in her classroom or for those in classrooms we would return to in the fall, she supported me to be my own teacher-researcher, to gather my own antidotes, all in the service of being a better teacher. This notion seemed novel at first, the idea that a teacher could guide herself and use her own students’ feedback in such an endeavor, but Dixie Goswami’s commitment empowered me more than any educational program I had been in before, or since, and continues to direct my practice even now, two decades later.
Last week I checked off my last have-to on my to-do list. Last, for now. During the other 11 months there is almost always a frantic side to me. A rushing. An inability to breathe deeply. Racing from bed to shower to work to workout to errands and chores and stuff to more work to finally bed for months on end. Doesn’t most everyone live such a manic pace? But this week, this July first Monday morning came and drifted into afternoon then into dusky evening, and besides lacing my sneakers for a hilly hot mid-day run, deliciously meandering, I did nothing that felt like a job. Just flitted from one spot to another following sunbeams like a roadside daisy. By evening my lungs were tired from use. Oh July, you are a glorious celebratory month of lazy hazy daydreams.
Days and months and seconds and years melt into memory
Past reaches behind us under us filling in the white space
And all the while nothing stagnates nothing remains solid
The dance continues the march the pursuit the ride
Moving us along the days months seconds and years
Who can fault a month that celebrates a day of LOVE and a long weekend for PRESIDENTS? Not me, at least not this year, while we are being inundated with snow storms and snow flurries and even more snow showers. Ode to February indeed!! Along with all that white bluster, there is poetry to read while curled up sipping hot chocolate, inspiring us through this short and lovely month.
I have been thinking about the 12th night of Christmas, that moment when following the Star of Bethlehem the Three Kings arrived at the stable bearing gifts for the baby Jesus; and this Epiphany has left me pondering not only the event, but the word itself. I recall biblical stories as interesting tales whose metaphorical interpretations can lead to spiritual growth. The word epiphany originally referred to insight through the divine, which sounds truly vital to me right now, as I look forward to this 2017, and try, with all my might, not to imbue it with a mountain of fear and river of dread. Instead, I’m calling upon the divine, shifting attention to the upcoming Feast of the Epiphany and creating a list of my own guiding stars.
A course more promising
Than a wild dedication of yourselves
To unpathed waters, undreamed shores; most certain,
To miseries enough: no hope to help you;
But, as you shake off one, to take another:
Nothing so certain as your anchors; who
Do their best office, if they can but stay you
Where you’ll be loth to be: besides, you know,
Prosperity’s the very bond of love,
Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together
Affliction alters. (“Winter’s Tale” Shakespeare)
All the thanks in the world for tuning in every week,
for letting me know when my writing touches you,
for reaching out when it’s so easy not to.
I so so so appreciate each and every one of you!