Classically trained in New York by a brutal Russian, the retired ballerina became a severe Pilates instructor in her retirement years. Exhausted, but never knowing rest. One experience folded into the next. Like falling dominoes, we don’t know what one introduction, or time period, or opportunity in our lives will be what gives way to the next version of ourselves.
There is downtime in his roofing business. So mostly on a whim, and struck by something said at church, he rushed into the opportunity to become a substitute teacher at a local junior high. With the background check and credentials run, he showed up with excitement. It was quickly apparent how demoralizing it was. He bemoans their disrespect and disregard and delinquency and hormonal emotions. He becomes witness to all the conflict spoken of in the news: the conflict around race; the conflict around biology. He later learns how offensive he had come across not addressing a trans student by the new name chosen when he was doing morning roll call. Reality crashed in. It was only buffered by the direct, personal connection he made with a few students. He celebrated them in any success; he encouraged them when they wanted to give up; he was sympathetic to the tears in private. And he still doesn’t know if he can handle it or for how long. It was whim, he reiterates. A spontaneous call to serve. I tell him nothing about this experience has been a waste. And in the very least, he now knows exactly what this schooling system looks like; exactly what his son will see and experience in a few short years. He has learned a lot, too, then.
I woke at 4 am this past week with the words Level Up repetitively looping in my mind. I have only been in my new position since September. When I started, I had excitable anticipation about learning new things. I remember thinking, ‘I have three new learning curves to hurdle over,’ and I’ve been ticking them off. The most gargantuan of the projects was completed this past Monday. Having succeeded to this point, a bit of momentum has built up. What’s next? It was all numbers and finances and the IRS and business taxes, and everything I believed out of my wheelhouse. It turns out, I have a damn good aptitude for it. I never knew this or believed this about myself.
We don’t know what we don’t know. We only know what we tell ourselves.
It’s time for the story to change.
We’re all being asked to upshift in different ways, whether in our family dynamics, in our work environments, in our political activism, or in our faith.
It’s funny to think how exhausted people were with Trump, because there was never a break. Always something; even his tweeting went through the weekends. Journalists and most media over-dramatized any message -any policy -any bill, thus creating a feedback loop for their own hysteria. The joke is on them. Did Biden restore a sense of calm? There hasn’t been any let up.
There hasn’t been any let up, because there won’t be any; because it’s not meant to be. It keeps compounding on itself, like those dominoes falling. We’re seeing more; we’re experiencing more; we’re getting new information. What are you doing with it? More is being asked of us.
It’s like working a muscle. The muscle is fatigued while also getting stronger. Exhausted, and rarely getting rest, yet finding new strength.
“Define yourself by your effort, not your suffering.” -James Clear