David Whyte has this poem called “Sometimes” that ends with the line “Questions that have no right to go away.” This line always haunts me and bubbles up so many things within me, things that in stillness come up from my depths of my own humanness. Things like:
- Am I truly following my purpose in my life, or some other person’s idea they held about my purpose long ago?
- How can I fulfill my purpose without burning myself out or getting spit out by the machine that is education?
- How can I create spaces for reflection and self-care while still honoring the power of the hustle?
- How do I value my self…the self that yearns to be heard, to be brought forward, to learn, to grow, and to go on wild adventures?
- How do I live my life in the most loving way possible?
- How do I move from the heartache I have had into a wholeness that honors the pain that has catapulted me into wholehearted living?
- How do I fiercely love my family without driving them or myself crazy?
I challenge you, dear friends, to bring your questions to the surface. For sometimes the questions hold more power than that answers. As we move through our lives, living the questions, we find ways to answer them not through words, but through simply living them.
In schools, we teach and we make decisions that we HOPE will make our students’ lives better. When we are doing our jobs well, we will not always all be happy or comfortable as adults. Whenever I don’t like how something is done, I must examine how that thing is or is not making my students’ lives better. If it’s not making them better students, stronger citizens, or kinder people, I must examine and speak out.
Last night I spoke to a black father at parent-teacher conferences. He spoke to me about not wanting his son to feel like the token black male in any of his classes. We were speaking about his son’s ability to bring people together, to create deep understanding collectively…I was speaking about a discussion his son had in class about rhetorical strategies in the Declaration of Independence, but it quickly became clear that this father was afraid his son felt he had to speak as a black male in the class.
As I probed and asked questions to understand his experience, I landed on, “It must be very painful to bring this to the table.” He looked at me, looked down and said, “Yes. It is painful. I don’t want my son to feel my pain.”
In that moment we spoke about goals for the class, what readings he could expect, and where to go from here. In that moment I felt close to this father, compassion, for his fight for his son. It made me feel compassion for how difficult it must be for this father to continuously fight to help his son’s white teachers understand.
Today is my birthday. This morning I woke up with a sinus infection, I got into an argument with my husband, and I have parent conferences this evening. Not what I’d characterize as my ideal day.
BUT I have had tons of messages on Facebook, I have had colleagues stop by to wish me a happy day, and I have even had old student pop by because they wrote my day down in their planner. Yep, life is pretty good.
These big birthdays make us sit down to reassess, to examine whether we are living our lives the way we dream. One of the things I am really missing in my life is the consistent writing I used to do. That is my goal here: more consistent writing. I desire to hone my skill, and the best way to do this is to…well…write.
So cheers to 50! Cheers to creating the best life in the second half.