Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Retiring from school

This week school started without me. After thirty-three years of teaching at Hampshire College, plus five of grad school, two years teaching in Peace Corps, four years at Swarthmore, two years at North Haven High, four at Hamden Hall (where my parents sent me to get out of the violence of a bad school), 2 at Strong School (the one where I had to walk a half mile and cross the steel bridge), and kindergarten plus four grades at the Quinnipiac School just across from my house. Fifty-seven years of discipline, self-discipline, and teaching others how to school themselves—how to get things done, how to inquire, form the question, and follow through.

Now I’m trying to go back through that same gate, get back to wild mind. To take the horses that are so good at staying within the traces and persuade them that it’s OK to kick back, take a side trip, explore the faintest trace. Practice the skill of wandering, of not-knowing, trusting the moment. The discipline of following impulse precisely, lovingly, openly.

Such a lot of unlearning—it’s mostly that attachment muscle inside, the one right up under my diaphragm, the one that says But what are you doing today? Wasn’t there something that someone else needed? Are you accomplishing anything? Doesn’t something in the house need tending? What’s next?

I am slowly (un)learning. Things keep happening. I keep writing, drawing, dancing, being. In a different way, in a different life.

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