Friday, March 9, 2012

Balancing Acts

This has been quite a week of highs and lows, starts and stops, rights and wrongs. These kinds of weeks (or months) are the hardest to adapt to, but sometimes also the most rewarding (at least that's what I keep telling myself). In this career, as perhaps in many others, keeping a balance is paramount to another goal, keeping perspective. It's necessary to not only understand, accept, and honor the reasons why things happen the way they do and their relationship to everything else occurring around us, but to work diligently to place them in balance with everything else, too.

If I had a dime for every time I thought this week, "This is why I love my job" after having thought "I just want to move to Maine and sell fleece pants at Reny's," I'd have quite a few dimes. I like best when the former follows the latter naturally, but I will readily admit, sometimes I must force my thinking into balance. When this happens, though, the balancing act seems awkwardly unbalanced; this was one of those weeks. It took an entire group of eager learners to balance the one cranky student from an earlier class. It took several supportive emails of appreciation for my union work to balance the one or two critical missives I received. It took a lunchtime of laughter and debate about the word "portmanteau" to balance the one run-in with an administrator. Looking forward, it's going to take something pretty remarkable to balance the grading odyssey on which I am to depart tomorrow morning.

Why such an unbalanced balancing? By our natures, we teachers are quick to take responsibility for the negatives and credit others for the positives. We give to others readily, but deny ourselves frequently. We strive to combat misguided and offensive criticism by working harder and harder and harder still. We tend to operate from a place of guilt, having adapted to, or even adopted, the repeated messages, explicit or implied, of our incompetence. In short, we're too nice (except to ourselves), too easy (except on ourselves), too accommodating (except toward ourselves).

Ultimately, though, I'm okay with it. I can say with honesty that I'm not sure I'd want it any other way; of course, I also don't think it could really ever be any other way. But I'll always strive for the balance, create it when I have to, and recognize its occasional unbalanced-ness. Because, like the indomitable Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

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