Wednesday, October 19, 2011


"Runner", oil on brown paper, by Robin Weiss
During a day at school, I often feel like I’m racing around with reckless eagerness, scurrying toward various finish lines, but sometimes, fortunately for me, I am able to run my school-day races with a kind of settled and satisfying patience. It might seem strange to think of racing patiently, but it’s begun to make sense to me, especially when I recall a long-distance runner I used to watch when I was an apprentice runner in high school. This fellow seemed to flow around the track as he ran; instead of struggling to run fast, he seemed to simply allow the fast running to spontaneously happen. It was as if he wasn’t working at all when he ran – as if something called “running” was doing the work, and he was just joining in the effortless amusement of it all. Early in a long race, he was often close to last in the field, but gradually, as if with self-assured patience, he always passed the other runners until, at the end, he sashayed across the finish line first, and always with an unflustered smile. When I’m whipping around the classroom in a frenzy to finish this or that lesson, I sometimes think of him and his serene and enduring way of doing great things on the track, and then I usually smile and settle myself down to do this taxing work of teaching with the kind of trustful patience it requires. Teaching teenagers can be like a race, yes, but one that’s best run in soft and graceful ways.

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