Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trusting the Universe

I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain
May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.
-- Shelley, in “Alastor: Or, the Spirit of Solitude”
I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious or thoroughly starry-eyed, but this year I’m going to try to remember that my “strain”– my daily words to my students – can do what Shelley describes in the above passage. I hope I can keep in mind that my words come not so much from a little mind inside my skull, but from the infinite numbers of ideas, words, events, and scenes that have nurtured that mind over the course of my lifetime. Even when alone, I’ve never lived truly alone in this world, but always surrounded and refreshed by the grand universe itself, and the words I say to
my students simply spring from that universe in all its immensity and mystery. Shelley says “Great Parent”, by which he may mean what some people call God, but for me it’s simply the cosmos that extends far and forevermore and makes my worries about what I’m going to say to my students seem very small and silly in comparison. The universe has given me limitless gifts for years and years, and it is these gifts that, in turn, give the gifts of my words to the students. I needn’t worry what to say in class any more than raindrops need to worry how to fall. I’ll continue to plan my lessons with great care, but I must then trust that my words will speak with the genuineness and strength of the universe that formed them.

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