I started packing this week. I also started the perpetual garage sale (all free) on the three tables to the left of our learning space. Ugly silver fabric covering the tan bulletin board came down. Quotes collected for student inspiration when I could not offer any slowly came down off the walls. Thinkers like Maya, Zora, Atticus and Shakespeare slowly found their way to the hands of desperate students uncomfortable with change or to the recycle bin, happy to have played their part in this small scene.
It was too small to teach all the lessons left.
Who will remind them to push through the apathy when it hits in March? Who will remind them that their existential crisis in February is normal? Who will remind them that they cannot choose the wrong school? For GOD’S SAKES YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE! It doesn’t matter! YOU will find your niche. You will give in and over to the culture and add your own. Oh, you have so many spices to add to this global recipe! Who would remind them of that?
I was too small for the love and grief.
I just do my job. That is what I do. I see them, scared, angry, pissed, frustrated, or small. I see them, meet them, and then we MOVE. There are no excuses. There are no rocks to hide under. I see each of them individually and collectively. I see them and we move…I just didn’t expect that they needed that.
It all became too big. My ugly cry. My grief. My second guessing…was leaving this space the right thing to do after sixteen years in it?
It has been one year. At least once a week I am asked, “Do you miss it?”
But sometimes the call is farther down the trail than where you were. Sometimes to go after what is necessary, you have to leave what is known and comfortable.
I miss the classroom. I miss the dialogue. I miss the interaction with students.
But it is worth longing for those moments in small doses as I work with other collaborators in our community to open up doors for students, to create spaces in which experiential learning is the norm and not the exception. I am working for all those wanting the best for our future, and that, well, that was bigger than my four walls, it was bigger than my small lessons, and it was bigger than my comfort.
I left them with three pieces of advice:
Be Here. Be Humble. Be Human
Explore and Engage. Laugh at yourself. Remember that we have worth because we breathe.