Teacher Without A Classroom

The contract vote passed last night, ending the strike–which meant everyone was back in school today, the first day of school for the 2022-2023 year.

Everyone but me.

You can infer that sentence from a dejected point of view, meaning, “Everyone but me is in school today and I feel so sad and lonely,” and you’d be right. Alternately, you might hear a life-altering sense of relief as well, as in “Everyone but me is in school today and this is the best day I’ve ever lived”…and you’d be right.

Not being in a classroom on the first day of school since 1975 has been a textbook meditative exploration of riding the flow of emotions. In meditation, we learn to ride our emotions as they arise in our practice and our life as a series of waves. Sometimes, our emotions take us to the crest, the very top, the apex, where we can’t imagine a more blissful moment in our lives, and other moments we find ourselves in the trough of existence, one breath away from bursting into tears and sinking into the depths of desperation without hope for rescue.

I rode that wave fully, completely, and without abandon today. I was thrilled to think I could take my morning walk around the block without having to rush to get out the door, then promptly felt deep sadness that I wouldn’t be hosting my colleagues for coffee in my classroom. I luxuriated in a morning pages journaling session, and after, felt my heart ache for the hugs I knew I’d be giving my last-year’s 6th graders, now my favorite 7th graders, after a long summer break. I gave myself grace when I needed to pause during a sun salutation on my Zoom yoga class to feel the syzygy–the opposite ends of emotion–at seeing the sunrise outside my window while wishing I’d been a part of the staff photo they took this morning. We’ve never taken an all-staff photo on the first day of school that I recall. I wanted to be a part of that in the worst way.

My heart was achy at the same time that a sense of freedom buzzed through me. I know I am on an extended leave of absence and I can go back when it’s complete–I could probably go back sooner. But I think I like being the explorer and not the guide for the moment. I’m sure I’ll have higher highs and lower lows, and I know myself well enough to know I’ll question the hell out of my decision with my logical and needs-stability-Taurus-mind at some point. Probably multiple times, if we’re honest.

For now, I am going to use this time to reverse engineer my days, my time, my life, and see what wants to be included. I have spent so much of my life crammed between 9 daily bells, I am curious to allow expansion and see where we’re headed.