This piece was first published on Sep 10, 2015. I thought it might be time to circle back, plus back to school means back to busy busy for me! If you’re a first time reader, let me know what you think, and if you’re on repeat, well, do the same! xxxooo
Man creates divisions. Labels and categories. Lists of ingredients that make up our individual peace or community discord. Political parties create further divergence and careers choices further separate our education, lifestyles, even viewpoints. Over here are our scientists, heralded as those to solve the unsolvable while the engineers continuously redesign our pathways and roadways and pipelines and even the vehicles that move us; labeling deems some as teachers in a school building while the rest are only students despite the grey lines these labels cross over within the school building. The law abiding stand on one side of the bars and those who transgress reside firmly on the other yet of late we too often must question the validity of each stance. Bound by these allotments we trudge through our dull days. Yet somehow, almost miraculously, living in defiance to every man-made divider are those that challenge the status quo: the artists existing among us. Instead of maintaining practicality and order, their daring shapes and colors mystify emotion and intellect. In an artist’s hands every medium is played with, messed up, combined anew to create a different vantage. For me, lingering in one sorrow, an afternoon to view the old masters to the new ones is like drinking a nutrient rich and satisfying smoothie, lifting me beyond compartmentalizing into a free floating joy.
Oh man, with a most contentious election season looming, the very-needed post office undermined and left fragile, the deadly COVID19 still raging unchecked from coast to coast thanks to the oversight of the current occupant in the White House and his shallow Senators, the return of deadly forest fires in California due to climate change, never mind just about everyone you know out of work within a still declining economy, I say, whatever you can do to keep yourself sane these next few months, do it, and do it hard. Start creating your own beautiful vision for a different reality today.
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 illuminate 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 anecdotes, 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.