A Brief Thought on Teaching and Pain

Happy Saturday!

If you’ve read my first post on Cobble & Brick you know that this winter I made a difficult choice to leave a job that challenged me and people that I love very much.

This journey I’m on is unfamiliar to me, so the obstacles I’ll face  will also be new. That’s troubling, because I probably won’t be able to see them coming. Yesterday is a perfect example. It was the kind of day that I will need to eventually write about. To continue learning and growing through this unnavigable place I’m in, that’s what I do–write. A lot. But I also struggle here, because I’ve yet to master how to write about my own pain. I’m learning that I don’t need to get the words any more perfect if there is anyone who feels or has felt what I do, just as I’m able to describe it here. Thank you for reading.

Thinking about my students now brings a pain I fail to describe accurately to other people. Though it hovers around me and trails me throughout the day, I’m unable to whip around and grab hold of it long enough to analyze. It is agonizing and draining even to try. The pride I have for my students continues to pulse and live inside of me, but my choice to walk away keeps the pride in chains. It can’t grow any greater now except in my hypothetical wonderings of their accomplishments. I feel absurdly wounded by my lack of privilege to know what’s really happening.

The tangible reminders of them are just as painful as my quiet thoughts, though the former are more threatening. The big card that opens to the length of my wingspan is marked with farewells and little jokes written in different color pens and Sharpie markers; here in this moment of the recorded history of my life is the written proof that I have impacted their lives in some way. Though I cherish their words, I can’t spend my evenings reading and rereading them. I save them for moments of cathartic need.

To know that I accomplished this–attaining some kind of elusive completeness that propelled me into teaching and dedicating my whole self to it, is not easy to describe. Like the pain. I wish I could assign adjectives to it, borrowing them from a similar experience from my past. It would be so clear and simple.  But, obviously, pain and goodbyes are rarely clear or simple.

Anyway, to hold in my hands, literally, the proof that I’d done right was more devastating than exhilarating. The evidence was provoked because tomorrow I would not be there. So when I lifted my eyes from the card towards tomorrow, for the first time since it mattered, I didn’t know what to look for.

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