Thursday, July 9, 2009

Goldilocks Never Had It So Good

What a difference a day can make. The sky above is blue. The water below is blue. The boats have returned to Streeterville Bay, aka The Play Pen. The Wheel of Life, aka The Big Honking Ferris Wheel, turns slowly at Navy Pier. Indiana is visible in the distance. The Streeterville Weather Service tells me that it's currently 79 degrees at the lakefront. The water temperature in the lake has finally reached 70. All in all, it's a day that is tailor made for Goldilocks, "Not too hot, not too cold, but just right."

In the summertime, life can be just right when you're a teacher on summer vacation. From September until June life is often too hot or too cold, figuratively speaking. You bust your butt trying to teach things to kids and they don't really want to learn. You get called on the carpet by administrators. You do your best to get uninvolved parents involved in a positive way in their kids' lives. They don't return your calls. Your friends and family continually tell you what a great thing it is that you have dedicated your life to teaching. The media incessantly assure you that you're doing an incredibly bad job, and American education is going to hell in a handcart.

Then comes summer, and in the summer you just are. Not hot. Not cold. Just right. If you want to sleep in, go ahead. If you want to get up early and go for a run, or a bike ride, just do it. If you have a hobby or an avocation that is neglected while you make the money to pay the bills, indulge it. The checks keep on coming. They took the money out of your regular pay during the school year, so you wouldn't become an indigent during the summer.

Summertime is a sample of what it would be like if you were independently wealthy and didn't have to work at all. Summertime is a sample of what it will be like when you retire, only without getting really old. Every other Friday, like clockwork, the payday fairies plop some money into your bank account, and "Voila!" You can survive another two weeks in comfort.

Once upon a time, I had to work year round, and got 2-3 weeks vacation. I had to travel when I could squeeze it in. I had to pursue artistry at night after having worked 8 hours already. There were too few hours in the day, and life could wear a person down. This is not to say that the September to June grind of teaching in a public school in a bad neighborhood doesn't occasionally wear one down. However, the teaching life gives you the summer to renew oneself, to discover who you really are, to discover who you want to be, to discover any lovely fantasy you want to indulge.

To date, the teaching life has enabled me to drive the highways of America at ease, and to Canada on occasion. It has enabled me to fly to Australia and New Zealand, to Thailand and Taiwan, to Morocco and St. Martin, to Iceland and Belize, to England and to France, and on occasion just to fly to California to visit friends. With summer vacations that are just right I have learned to play guitar and write songs. I have traveled to Cape Cod and indulged in fiction writing seminars. My summers have enabled me to train for marathons and complete them. They have made it possible for me to spend endless hours riding a bicycle along the shores of Lake Michigan with the wind blowing in my hair. (It also enabled me to fall in Lake Michigan, bicycle and all, once, but that's a story for another time.) Summer has made me tan.

Currently, my summer has given me the time to discover that I really do like writing a lot, and I do have it in me to write every day and by the end of this summer I really do think that I will have the first draft of a novel completed. It has been 20 years since I first returned to school to get a teaching certificate. It has been 18 years since I first embarked on education as a full-time career. In that time my hair has turned gray and I have developed an incredibly large bald spot on the back of my head. I've taught a lot of classes and I've even had my share of successes with students. summers have been unparalleled successes. The vacations have restored me year after year, but more importantly, they have provided me with the opportunity for personal growth in those areas that people think about when they think about who I am, the songwriter, the world traveler, the runner, the biker, the guy who thinks he can write a novel. And this summer everything is...just right.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to your novel.

    Teaching can have its rewards, and I anticipate one day that I'll venture back into that environment. I enjoyed it, but am currently liking my job now, which involves teaching in a different capacity than in the classroom.

    You and Babs are inspiring me to finally focus and work on my non-fiction materials.

    Continue to enjoy the summer!! It's nice when all of the stars align for successful and joyful personal growth opportunities to take place!

    And, I want to hear the bicycle and falling into Lake Michigan story one of these days.