Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In conclusion...

It's the right title, the one I decided to use to conclude these ramblings about my teaching and my learning, both major facets of my life.  Keeping up with the writing became a self-imposed source of guilt about the (in)frequency, the quality, the value, the meaning...and, ultimately, about the time.  Not having the time, not making the time...and it being the right time to move on.

And then a comment from a reader.  Can't bail on the day you receive a comment from a reader whose dialog has helped shape my own...I'll give it another day or so before I conclude.  And then another comment from a reader, one who generally limits the challenges to the non-virtual world.  Well, this is awkward.  But I've waited this long for a semi-graceful exit and another day or so won't matter.  And then it happened.

I came into the office this morning and Google Reader offered these timely insights:

In conclusion, I've been busted.  I have all the time in the world to write.  I just forgot why I was doing it.  I forgot that it nurtures my soul, that I express many things far better in writing than in speaking, that it connects me to my own the people who taught me to love reading, taught me to love writing, encouraged me to find my voice, believed in me as a teacher, a parent, and a person.

This semester has its share of challenges, from an unprecedented number of canceled class periods (on the bright side, we've set snow and temperature records), the new and newly-revised courses, the juggling of multiple responsibilities (the fact that I asked for them doesn't lessen the challenge), and the messiness of living a life.  And I started to wonder if this was the semester when I couldn't do it all...if I would fail.  And, suddenly, it seemed a propitious time to stop writing.  One does not need a degree in psychology here.

And the laundry.  In the innovation and creativity course, we've talked a lot about the rich sources of new (and profitable) business ideas in developing countries.  We've read and talked about Japan, China, and India.  I've been reading student papers about the challenges they expect in working for multinational companies, as many of the students have limited exposure to other cultures.  One of the blogs I read offered me the same-but-different description and photographs--breathtakingly beautiful photographs, by the way--of laundry day in India.  And I realized that immersing ourselves in the ways in which we are similar to and different from others is part of keeping ourselves whole, part of learning, part of seeing our world differently...part of creativity.

We'll be talking about laundry in class today, an area in which I can comfortably claim a certain expertise.


  1. In conclusion….I stumbled over those words hoping that what followed would not involve an ending, maybe a detour but not the end of the road.

    Rambling, Rebecca, by its very nature, doesn't have a conclusion or even a final destination in mind or it’s simply not rambling. It can be set aside, it can be procrastinated, we can be distracted from it, but it cannot ever conclude with any sense of finality. Rantings, maybe, hopefully in most cases, do conclude, usually not soon enough, but not ramblings.

    In the U.K, rambling is the term we used for walking in the countryside, hillwalking for walking in the hills or if you have a fondness for the mountains of the north, fellwalking. You do them all wonderfully. You ramble with a curiosity and awareness and tenacity through the brambles, over the hills, across the creeks, and even into and out of an occasional desert and canyon or two, seeming to take in all the sights and sounds and smells and their resulting valence.

    Many of us it seems are unready or maybe it's just unwilling to recognize that the more mundane things, the chores and tasks and to do items which make up our lives and in many ways nurture our bodies and souls, are often the easiest things to set aside, to procrastinate, to dismiss as nonessential and yet they are also the most critical to our wellbeing. Perhaps it's because we know that they will always be there for us to go back to do later. Perhaps it's because they don’t have the reward or the recognition for which we sometimes clamor. And yet those very things which we assume will always be there and are thus not critical in a particular moment are likely also the things which sustain us in our lives. The same could and should be said about people in our lives and especially about some individuals but that is likely a whole other subject area, at least it would is for me.

    The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, the cleaning, the writing, the chatting, the coffee, even the bedtime routines, inherent in each and every one of those things is a beauty beyond compare…..if we pay attention with all of our senses, with our being, if we are perceptive to our lives in those moments.

    Perception is nothing though without perspective and so, as you so wonderfully shared, we can only have a true and lasting perception of self and of others if we also have perspective on our differences and our similarities and the mystery that lies in between. We are each already as authentic as we can and need to be. Whether or not we are spontaneous as you I seem to remember have previously discussed in a posting through which I continue to ramble. And sometimes in order to actually believe that we do actually have authenticity in abundance, to nurture that belief or even to recognize it in the first place, it seems to me that we need to feed that belief with both perception and perspective, along with a heavy dose of gratitude that we are not all the same and patience on the journey of discovery.

    Perhaps a blogging sabbatical is in order, perhaps that is only what I hope for. And so in conclusion, au revoir, ma’alsalam, and shalom. Whether it’s here in a virtual place where I can continue to visit and ramble or in your real life, ramble away Rebecca, talk about that laundry (and do it!), claim and trust your expertise. It’s all important.

  2. Forgive my ramble across an entire continent. It didn't feel like such a long way when I started out.

  3. Synchronicity. Reminders that even random data points have connection some where, some how, some time. Have been making my way through a brief book full of stopping and pondering places called hand wash cold, instructions for an ordinary life by Karen Maezen Miller. Thus the laundry post elsewhere. Here, this week, the pondering place is this "“Whatever you pay attention to thrives; whatever you don’t pay attention to withers and dies.” How many times has my attention wandered to brighter lights, bigger fires, greener grass, more pleasant thoughts, only to find that the things and the people that matter most are withering on the vine?

    The rest has already been well said by Michael...

  4. A ramble across an entire continent is a lovely thing.

    Michael, you write beautifully and it's ever-so-slightly humbling. I appreciate both the thoughts and the artistry with which they are expressed. I think I took the sabbatical I needed, though only time will tell; quiet observation of our own behavior tells us much.

    Alicia, I didn't catch your laundry post elsewhere, but laundry is one of those humanizing and equalizing activities. I'll look forward to hearing more about that book.

  5. You are correct, again. Quiet observation of our own behavior can tell us much if we are willing to see it. Quiet observation of others is much the same.

    Thank you for your kind comments.

  6. Where am I supposed to go for my chaos/zen dose now?

  7. Apparently, I don't write very well. I thought about quitting, sort of quit by default for a while, but don't think I'm ready to actually quit.

    Writing about thinking about quitting is not the same as quitting. Or so I thought. Maybe I need a writing course.

  8. Maybe I should a read a book about reading. I thought about reading your blog post but then the panic set in and Charlie Sheen started talking on the tube and I just freaked out!

    Besides, if you quit writing your blog, you're just going to spend more time entertaining me on Facebook. It's really a win-win for me no matter what you do.


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