Calm in the Midst of Chaos

The strangest thing happened last week.

It was a really awful day.  Rainy and cold.  The mulch shivered under inadequate tarp protection, icy puddles pooling on the surface, breaking and sliding down to the asphalt.  So much for our designs on a day in the garden.

At school, too, plans fell by the wayside.  My nefarious ambitions rivaled King George's; I concocted schemes for a Staple Tax, a Printer Tax and an Anonymity Tax as students scurried around with almost-finished assignments and valuable class time slipped away.  Not everyone got to present their projects.  Meanwhile, I struggled to defeat the worst feeling of all -- the feeling of Not Being Heard.  Colleagues and students alike seemed bent on talking over and cutting under my ideas.

I arrived home just in time to meet a student who was coming over for tutoring.  Still, I remained grumpy.  This was the icing rosebud atop the cupcake of my inconvenience.  The last thing I wanted to do after a day like that was teach.

But here's the strange thing.  Almost instantly, I felt the tension of the day slip off my back as I eased seamlessly into the role.  With one student, I could be patient, smile at her insecurities and encourage her strengths.  She didn't bring a pencil, but it was no problem -- honestly -- to walk into the kitchen and select a nice, sharp one, the same kelly green as her headband.  It seemed an easy, enjoyable job: making Geometry a little clearer to one person for one hour.  She left empowered and charged up, her target SAT score one step closer.  And I left with more peace and centeredness than I had found all day.  In the hubbub of red tape and record-keeping, it was a great relief to finally be able to focus on pure, simple instruction.

My dear friend Michiko's words came to mind then: "I am very close to my teaching.  What I mean is that I do it as easily as I breathe. I have come to realize that I am most relaxed when I am teaching . . . I have become it and it has become me."

It is.  I have.  I am grateful.