Last Sunday, I had dinner at my parents house. I left later than I usually do on Sunday nights, coming up with three different plots to not have to go to work the next day.
When I finally got home, I realized that my line of thinking was going to make my week entirely miserable. Since I knew going in that there was going to be a minimal amount of sleep involved in my week, I figured that I would be doubly miserable about Wednesday when the exhaustion hit me.
So, I said to myself that it is all positive. Every single bit of it.
When I got into work on Monday morning and sat through an early morning faculty meeting, I found three positives. Okay, they were stretches and the spin into positive was more about mocking the situation than anything. But I laughed so hard with my friend that I thought I might be on to something.
I always take my job seriously–the teaching part of it–but I also decided that I was going to put 100% of my energy into every class I taught for the week. That’s kind of a deadly decision. I figured out a couple of years ago that 80% is enough to teach properly, but 100% creates those days where I think that teaching is the greatest thing a person could do.
So, in I went. The topic of the week was the epiphany moment. And it clicked. Every single time. My classes moved seamlessly, and my students gave me as much energy as I was trying to muster up.
And that afternoon, I met for my standing date with one of my most inspirational friends. I don’t think she knows how to be less than 100% energetic, and I fed off her energy for the two hours we were together. Finally, finally–we made progress on an idea that we have been kicking around for over a year. Creating a simpler weekly goal made us both feel better about the project, and I think it might actually happen this time.
Which leads me to the other “just might happen this time.” In the past couple of months, I have had the joy of creating a friendship that has deeply inspired my writing. A month ago, it was two books handed to me that made me sit and really think about what I was trying to do with my writing. Then, last week, it was a simple statement: “I’m going to write three pages a day.” I went home that night and thought, that’s not a bad goal at all. I resurrected a story that I have wanted to write for the past few years–probably longer. And I sat. And I wrote three pages. Then, again and again. I am surprised at how easy it is. It’s harder to stop at the three page mark than it is to force myself to write. The story stays in my mind because my writing stops at strange moments in the plot. By the end of this week (even though I had to do my three pages from Friday at 4 in the morning), I ended with 50 pages and finally feeling like this really might happen.
Added into the mix was an epic baseball game with two of my wonderful little brothers. Somewhere in the last two or three years, all of my brothers have become less “little” brothers who I have to take care of and more of the best friends I could ever dream up. When I get to spend time with them like that, it’s almost as though time ceases, and I just get to be me. I love it. And even though I crawled into bed about one that morning, I mustered up all the energy that I could to teach the next day.
Energy breeds Energy. Capital E’s. I wrote it on my whiteboard at work. We’ve moved into the 1950s in my Literature classes, and we were talking about the similarities of the immigrant experiences and what it is to be a child in an immigrant culture (Bernard Malamud’s “The First Seven Years”). I had lively discussions with my students all day, and it was easy to stand and smile.
And just about when I thought I was going to pass out from how insane the week was, I did. Friday was about as bizarre as it could have been at work and I went straight through 6 hours without a break–or food! By the time, I ate and returned home, I knocked out. It was kind of awe-inspiring sleep. Too much sleep for the middle of the day, but sleep nonetheless.
My week ended with an amazing, humbling nine-hour conversation about writing and life. At some point, I said something that I never had thought about before. “I’m passionate about teaching, but it’s not my passion.” I think I’m very lucky right now because as I realize how much I love and miss writing, I know that I’m blessed to share it with young people. I don’t think, at this moment, that I could ask for anything more.
When I sat to reflect on the day and the week last night, I realized how alive I felt this week. And the reason for that was for the simple fact that everything I did was gratifying for my soul. So yea….my soul is showing.