I spent the entire day – from six in the morning until late at night working on classes and student issues. Since I resist writing about work here, on Ocean, I ought to let it go at that, showing perhaps only the pretty fall view from my office window, as most of at least the daylight hours were spent in my office.
But I do want to say this: teaching, for me is different these days than it was in the early years, when I was also raising kids and trying to keep my face above water as my teaching load grew and grew and grew. Those days I was audaciously bold. I had to be. Like in camping, hiking, kayaking, and Rosie riding – you’re bolder at the beginning. Otherwise you’d never move out the front door. Or you’d call a cab rather than put yourself at risk. Can’t afford cabs? Well then, swallow your fears and get going. Same with teaching: can’t afford to be unemployed? Well then, stand up and teach.
These days I wont stand up unless I’ve done all my homework. And believe me, even after some two dozen years of teaching, there is still plenty of homework.
At the end of the day, I’m more tired now than I used to be, even as there are no kids to attend to at home, no sleepless nights over a little one’s cough or sore tummy. It’s age? I don’t think so. More likely, it’s the realization that everything is more complicated than once imagined and could be improved upon if you gave it more thought, more consideration.
I ran into a colleague of mine in the faculty lounge as I waited for a printing job to end. I grumbled a little about how each year teaching required more of me for every class, how it never once slowed down. She is somewhat older than me and I could tell that she understood. It’s why I retired – she said. (She still teaches the occasional course – at the law school’s and at her discretion.)
Some work surely becomes easier with repetition. I watch the truck farmers by the farmette as they clear the fields. This one, for example (she’s my favorite – when there are flowers, she’s the first to run up and grab me a handful), maintains her bent position for many hours each day.
Surely her muscles grow strong enough to support that bend in the back! I looked on with not a small dose of admiration. Over time, she has accumulated a reservoir of strength. Over time, I’ve accumulated knowledge as to where strength would be most welcome.