Sunday, February 14, 2010


When I picture myself (which I occasionally do) as a heavily burdened, harried teacher laboring away like a self-sacrificing hero of some sort, that line of thinking is usually brought to a stop fairly quickly by the realization that, while I’m admiring my self-styled valiant efforts, other kinds of labor of more astonishing proportions are continually happening. For instance, while I’m carrying the supposedly grave weight of teaching teenagers, my heart is carrying a truly amazing responsibility – that of keeping me alive. In a typical 48-period English class, my loyal heart beats about 3,000 times, always in perfect rhythm, always pushing precisely the right amount of blood out to my cells. Not only that, my lungs faithfully rise and fall hundreds of times while I go about my allegedly prodigious task of teaching writing and reading. All I’m doing is trying to get some kids to stay alert and learn a few skills; my heart and lungs are giving me the gift of life, over and over again. And then I look outside at the breezes and the clouds and the sky vanishing in the distance, and I wonder at the ceaseless work of nature. While I’m mentally commiserating with myself for the “wearisome” work I have to do for a few hours each day, the sun and wind and weather continue to do their truly epic work. When I’m slumped over my desk at lunch, wondering how I can possibly make it through my last two challenging classes, the earth, as it has done for about fifteen billion years, keeps working its way through space, dutifully carrying me and mountains and seas and a few billion other riders.

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