Monday, December 14, 2009


    Yesterday I wrote about being willing to “give it all away” (let go, stop worrying, take risks) in every English class, but it’s also important that I be willing to accept it all.  Countless odd and unforeseen events can occur in any class, and I need to be open enough to welcome them. I don’t mean always like them or encourage them – just receive and be at ease with them. Interestingly, the etymology of the word “receive” – from the Latin for “take back” – helps me to be friendlier to the various distractions and stoppages that happen in class. After all, in my lifetime I’m sure I have created, in one form or another, every kind of disturbance that might take place in my class. In my school days and at faculty meetings, I’ve whispered, interrupted, blurted, looked bored, and steered people away from the topic, so when these things happen during my class, I can just welcome them back. Like boomerangs, my questionable behaviors over the decades occasionally return to me during English class, and I try to greet them like old, innocuous friends. It helps me, in this regard, to sometimes think of myself as a river, and all the weird, irregular episodes and incidents that come to pass during class are merely streams, creeks, brooks, and rivulets that flow harmlessly toward me as I conduct the class.  A river doesn’t resist, and neither should I. Again, it doesn’t mean I should like everything that occurs during class, but at least, like an hospitable but persistent river, I can welcome every side stream, somehow absorb it into the lesson, and just keep on flowing. Rivers know how to turn everything into part of the movement toward the goal, and, at the age of 68, I’m still learning that lesson.

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