Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Flirting with cynicism

I intended to write about Blackboard--which I will, soon, because it's new, it's awesome, and I'm excited about it--but my thoughts this morning are elsewhere.  Perhaps that's due, in part, to starting the day with an email from a friend and former co-worker who wrote "in one of the great upsets of the 21st century, my life long bachelorism ended."  What makes this noteworthy is that my friend is near the high side of his 50's, has had health struggles for as long as I've known him, and married a woman who has battled cancer (quite courageously) for over a decade.  She'd been suggesting marriage for years.  No one thought it would happen.  And when I read the message this morning, several seemingly unrelated things became clear, at least for a moment.

I flirt with cynicism...a lot.  And, as with any flirtation, there's the headiness of getting close, but not too close.  Of believing in one's unique ability to charm and disarm.  Of wondering how it might be "if."  I have to admit that I find cynicism somewhat alluring--the world weariness and uber sophistication, the absence of naivete, the Lonesome Dove-ness of it all.  It's downright romantic, right up until I actually try to live with cynicism.  And that's when I realize that I will always enjoy the flirtation, but I just don't think I can make the commitment.

And, what, you may be asking, does this have to do with education?  One of the seemingly unrelated things that became clear this morning is how dangerous it is for cynicism to take up residence in the halls of the academy. I've been reading the thoughtful writing of a professor of organic chemistry who, until recently, has been on sabbatical.   Though he writes anonymously, his discourse seems to be an honest flirtation.  There are other anonymous authors whose relationship with cynicism is far harder to assess.

One of my favorite students gives me a fair amount of grief about "bunnies and rainbows," which is her summation of my not-infrequent life perspective.  It's not that I manufacture six foot rabbits; it's that there really are some bunnies and some rainbows in and around my life and I try not to overlook them in the midst of my ongoing flirtation.  My newly married friend may not be a bunny, but he's certainly a rainbow.  And a reminder to see the gifts in my well as the gifts in my colleagues and our students.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.