Sunday, October 18, 2009

the swaying moon

it's a funny thing but after teaching for nineteen years and with six, seven, maybe eight more classes coming my way i'm starting to really feel the call of the life after teaching. it speaks to me almost every day. to say that it's a strange and unexpected experience would barely begin to describe my surprise.
i'm what you would know as a dedicated teacher.
that's how i know myself.
that's how my community knows me.

i've been alright with the fact that this work precludes the pursuit of many other experiences i love.
so thoughts of not teaching seem almost sacreligious to me.
as if this is a game to be played out.
the real life - the one i have "earned" awaits me.

so yesterday the thought passed through my mind
that perhaps it's not so much the wishing for time to pass
and for me to be living the life i saw for myself as an artist -
as much as it's a wish for it to be filled with a different sort of goodness,
and that i continue to be able
to share goodness with this world in the time i am given.

martin johnson heade sailing by moonlight

thoughts while night traveling

slender wind shifting the shore's fine grass.
lonely at night below my boat's tall mast.
stars hang low as the vast plain broadens,
the swaying moon makes the great river race.
how can poems make me known?
i'm old and sick, my career over.
drifting, just drifting. what kind of man am i?
a lone gull floating between earth and sky.

tu fu (712-770)

(translated by tony barnstone and chou ping)


ALeks said...

Only the great artist is capable of sharing this kind of perception and expression which you have weaved with highest amount of your attentive,conciderate and kind nature trough all the bits and pieces on your blogs.I think that your community as your students are fortunate to have you in their lives as I feel fortunate to get to know a tiny piece of that goodness,thank you for another juwel of painted past,present and future times,as for the night traveler thoughts :O).Lovely sunday at your corner.

staceyjwarner said...

being a dedicated teacher is such an amazing art.

much love

Kay said...

Funny,I was having similar thoughts yesterday.....i know what I want to do but whether I'll be able to..who knows..i look back 6 years and think it has gone in an instant but looking forward six seems forever for now i take each day at a time.
i wonder if the poems author thought we would still be reading and being astounded by his words all these centuaries later?..enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Pauline said...

and if that lone gull in the poem was not in the sky, the sky would be less beautiful...

though you love teaching, you have your art to look forward to. we should all have something joyous to look forward to when our "career" has ended, yes?

Barry said...

My work related health benefits and accumulated vacation days run out at the end of November. With additional chemo and radiation therapies coming up, I'm not able to return to work, so I'm faced with either going on EI Sick Leave or moving straight to retirement. My HR department is looking into which would provide the most income.

Then my days of working will be over. But, it's not at all how I imagined it would be.

Golden West said...

I would imagine you will continue teaching, just not necessarily in a classroom.

A saying comes to mind - "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans".

ellen abbott said...

Not an end or a beginning, but a transition, a new medium so to speak.

hope said...

You are so creative, I'm betting you'll be able to blend the two until you segue from one to the other.

steven said...

hi leks, thanks for your very kind and generous thoughts! have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello stacey j warner. i've been incredibly fortunate from the outset in terms of teaching. i've worked with amazing people, seen my students go from little kindies right through to their return now as university grads, college grads, parents, really cool vital members of my community.
there's more art than science to teaching in my own experience and opinion. it's a lot about who you are inside - i see that in the best teachers. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello kay - i laughed out loud when you asked about the poet. you're so right!!! he'd probably be astonished!!! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello pauline - i agree. there's lots in the future to look forward to although you never can tell where life will lead you (read barry's comment). so i try and live now to the degree i am capable. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi barry - your words reminded me to remember to live my life in the here and now and not so much in the "what might or could happen". there's so much "unfinished business" in all of our lives that it's difficult to quiet that voice down so we can hear the voice of the present moment. thanks for your comment. steven

steven said...

hello golden west - that's an excellent quote!!! it's new to me. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hi ellen - when i worked in a factory in toronto i was able to paint at night - i needed to in order to release the creative force that was suppressed through the nature of the work. teaching is all about creativity and i am always in awe of those who can manage to teach all day and paint, sing, dance, act in the evenings. i don't know how they have anything left!!! but i am feeling that need to create something outside of my work as you know so the idea of a transition - wich suggests a melding of work and craft over a period of time really appeals to me. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello hope! i'm thinking you're probably right. have a lovely day. steven

Anonymous said...

I loved teaching for a number of years in our vocational schools where I taught art, illustration and some photography but mostly commercial art. All good things must come to an end and it ended for me.

When administration began to hire total nitwits and appointed them as "supervisors" -- that ended my fascination with teaching and careers in education. Until then I was always at the top of the teaching list in the state and I liked it and even went to Wash DC once because of it.

Anyway, then came a time when I was confronted with the lunatic asylum or going back to teaching. I quit and never went back but while I was teaching I influenced several of my students to become teachers and they have since retired.

But when I quit, we gave up hospitalization, 185 day a year work schedules and all the other stuff for no paychecks, no insurance and no supervisors. That was back in 1976.

Quitting was the best thing I ever did. It opened doors for me that were closed and locked. I am happy that I drew my last paycheck back in 1976 and would not want to ever draw another one in this life.

If you have a worthy superintendent and school board and are not plagued with dumb supervisors who are trying to climb up their ladders at the expense of everyone else; then I would say, stick with it. And enjoy it because there is no other profession that has such meaningful rewards as those in teaching.

lakeviewer said...

Don't put off to have your "real" life. As a teacher, I too had so much to do that I felt "spent" at the end of the day. Life doesn't give you time. You have to mnake your own time or be resigned to never have done all the things you dream of.

Joanna said...

Teaching is such an engrossing all-encompassing job. And it's also so creative. But there's little time left for other aspects of the creative drive. I expect in time you'll come to the end of the teaching curve and begin another one. I hope that all of it feeds your soul.

Dan Gurney said...

I flirted with retiring last year. I even sent the school board a letter of intent to retire. But I took it back, and I'm really glad I did. I'm in my 29th year and I have the best class I've had in years. I'm retired from teaching only in attitude: I teach purely for the love of it. I have NO idea how many more years I have in me. I'll probably walk away when I get a principal from hell.

Like you I lovelovelovelove teaching, but feel the strong and seductive tug of other attractive career interests.

Perhaps it's best to find a way to set a boundary on your teaching work so that you have the time and energy for an "affair" with another career. What would that be, though, not blogging, right?

I cannot figure out how you manage to post to Fish almost daily. Gadzooks. You're either not getting enough sleep or you're Superman. My teaching day leaves me so spent I don't even try to blog except on weekends.

With apologies for such a long comment, but your post really got me going.

acornmoon said...

I hope that you get to fulfil your dream, a friend of mine, a recently retired art teacher, has just satrted to earn recognition as a designer bookbinder.

When you do retire however, it will be a great loss to your pupils I am sure.

steven said...

hi abe - i'm fortunate to work with good people - even exceptional people. senior admin in any context is generally removed from the action and filled with ambition which runs counter to good practice. however, i love my work and have done so since i first started. thanks for the comment abe!! steven

steven said...

hi lakeviewer - a worthy and insightful comment. thankyou. steven

steven said...

hi joanna - thankyou for that. there are many days when i come home exhausted - truly with nothing left in the tank - but i am able to reflect back on the great moments through the day (some even have to do with teaching) and feel good about it all. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi dan - the "affair" with another career appeals to me. but not blogging, oh no, not blogging!!! the blog is so fun and teaches me through my own efforts and through the extraordinary people i meet here but it's not a replacement for teaching or creating art. i have had poor principals, difficult colleagues, challenging students but when the door closes with my name on it then my class and i can usually make things good. very good. even amazing. that's what keeps me in love with this work. i'm so glad for you and for the kindies that you are who you are and what you are for them. steven

steven said...

hi acornmoon, a number of colleagues whom i have seen retire have segued directly into something that they find fulfilling, even creative and look so happy for it. that's my ambition. but for now i'm loving my teaching and will give it who and what i am. have a lovely english autumn day. steven