It often happens that a great calm follows the end of something exhilarating – when a storm stops and sunshine is suddenly everywhere, or when applause for a performance stops and just the shuffling of shoes toward exits is heard, or when songbirds in the woods wait for a few seconds of silence among the trees. I haven't yet made a definite decision, but this year I may be coming to the end of 48 roller coaster, white-knuckle, nerve-racking, adrenaline-charged years as a teacher, and already I sense the telling signs of calmness. My whole life looks lighter and easier to carry. The days, lately, seem unusually serene and still, like a pond’s surface after a storm has passed. This morning, for instance, the coffee-maker seemed to make its coffee in a casual and unruffled way, just bubbling along and then fading off and stopping in silence. The pendulum clock in the hall sounded its clicks with quiet composure, and even the crickets outside the window called to each other with a special kind of coolness and self-possession. I recall, too, days in the past when grand storms suddenly sailed over the hills and nothing was left but a sky full of stars, something like what retirees might feel with a life full of fresh quests and escapades ahead of them. Yes, this year might be the end of something stirring and often breathtaking, but if it is, it will also be the beginning of something that might take my breath away in even better ways. The roller coaster could come to a stop next June, but a smooth and calm kind of adventure, and a different kind of delight, will be waiting in July.
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