One of the biggest benefits of teaching is summer vacation. I’m not a huge fan of this design: I would quickly exchange the long breaks for a more manageable day-to-day life. But I usually make that argument in April, not June.
Teaching is one of the rare jobs that clearly demarcates transition. One year to the next. A new crop of students. A long break to reflect, unwind, and prepare for the next blitz.
Some teachers use their time to work on their classes or teach summer school. For me, the mental space for creativity and reflection is a personal and professional necessity. Recharge the batteries. Remind myself why I’m teaching in the first place.
This year was one of the busiest years in memory. I got married. I moved twice. I started a podcast. My school got bought out. RedforEd happened.
Sometimes I like to reserve my summers for intellectual or creative projects. Try to learn guitar. Publish an e-book. Noble goals, but they’re partly fueled by a guilty feeling that comes with idle time, probably reinforced by our GO-GO-GO society. Be productive. Get something tangible accomplished.
There’s also a feeling of making up for lost time. Ideally, one would have the space for creative and intellectual projects in their day-to-day life. Practically, that notion is laughable.
Tomorrow I will be leaving on a road-trip across the country with my wife. We’re traveling to the East Coast for my brother’s wedding, and we’re taking our sweet time getting there.
No itinerary, no hotel reservations.
Just a general idea of some of the cities we’d like to hit, and a date for the wedding.
Allow me to indulge in some worn out metaphors about roads.
People hate uncertainty. We fight against it with data, science, technology, poll numbers. We want to know how many steps we take in a day. We want to know how many grams of saturated fat are in that muffin. We want to do statistical analyses of all the teammates LeBron James ever had.
We fight against uncertainty by planning for the future. In some ways that’s a good thing. It’s smart to plan for the future. That 401k will keep growing, setting you up for a happy retirement. Studying for that degree will set you up for the next job, which will set you up for the ultimate job, which will make you happy.
No doubt — science and technology have made us better, materially, as a society. We live longer. We have more stuff. We know more stuff.
But there’s a burden that comes with certainty. Jesus talked about this in the Gospels. Like how the birds and flowers don’t worry that much. They just chirp and bloom. They are who they are.
I get the feeling things will get a lot messier in our society before they get more peaceful. The Donald Trump saga has only begun. The digital takeover of everything has only begun.
The outcomes are out of anyone’s control. Sometimes it feels like the more you fight for a specific outcome, the more backlash and intransigence you confront.
So I’m convinced the better outcomes will manifest not from the result of any specific fight, but in our manner of being.
As we’re caught up in the immediate goal, fight, problem, situation …
We forget we are fellow travelers. Destination unknown.
If anyone has a podcast or audio book recommendation, drop me a line.