Deflated Ambition



When I think about how this week went, I keep coming back to a scene in Eat Pray Love, which I read yesterday over the loud protests of the friend who lent it to me.  ("Are you sure you want to borrow that?! Well, okay, as long as you promise not to return it.")  The protagonist, to her credit, does make an effort to raise her eyes from her own navel from time to time.  In one such instance, she practices a very ancient form of meditation, which is to simply sit, not directing her thoughts anywhere or repeating a mantra -- just keeping stillness in her body.

The situation is more humorous than one would think, because she decides to try this practice at dusk in a tropical location, and instantly is swarmed with hungry mosquitoes.  As she tries to quiet her body, invaders hum and poke at her from all sides, leaving itchy red welts in their wake; to me, this particular corner of Hell (reserved, if you believe Dante, for the lukewarm) sounded frighteningly intolerable.  I actually started to itch while reading it.  And there's something even more maddening about the fact that she had finally decided to discipline herself, to do it right, when she was set upon by hundreds of hindrances in tiny insect bodies.

Which brings us to this week.  Armed with positive and constructive feedback after last week's observation, I arrived ready to combat the apathy in my classes, to awaken the literary critic hidden deeply (very deeply, in some cases) in each of their souls.  We were going to discuss, learn, think.  We were going to be more educated people.

But then the mosquitoes started to arrive, their droning voices drowning out my good intentions in a chorus of whining inquiries:

Hooooooooow many paragraphs does this need to be?  Should I put my name at the top or the bottom?  Can you repeat the assignment?

Wheeeeeeeeeere's the stapler?  Do you have any tissues?  Can I go to the bathroom?  Can we have class outside?

Mmmmmmmmmmrs. Lowe, how come I couldn't find you after school?  Why did you take points off for lateness?  When should I make up the work I missed?

My answers often came out with as much force and vitriol as the slaps I would bestow on a real mosquito: "It doesn't MATTER!  LISTEN when I give directions!  Be responsible!  BE AN ADULT!"

I know I need grace, patience.  They aren't adults; they still need some degree of handholding.  (In fact, even adults need this from time to time.)  But oh, dear Lord, the questions, the little nitpicky items that poke holes in my perfect plans for the day.  How will I ever change the world when I can't conduct a single uninterrupted class?