Before I first started teaching high school English I was in regular e-mail communication with one of my future colleagues. He was trying to help me understand what teaching high school English was like. He concluded one of his letters with the phrase “Teaching English is messy!” And he was right! Juggling as many as a hundred students a semester all at different places in the creative process, all with different writing skills and different reading levels and different literary tastes, all with unique personal challenges and different attitudes towards learning, made for an extremely messy classroom hubris that I grew to love over a six-year period.
Life is a lot like English class too. Relationships are usually messy. They rarely run the course described in fairy tales. While the people we love often make us feel whole and cherished…… sometimes as they negotiate their way through joy or pain they can tax our resources of support and caring and we can easily wear their affection thin with our overt enthusiasm or droning complaints. Friendships don’t just begin and end, they taper off, go through rough patches, are rejuvenated and many times bless us richly. Goals and plans are messy. We seldom reach milestones or walk through a charted journey in the manner we’d anticipated but how great a feeling when we arrive! The path of our work life is almost certain to be winding and messy and full of detours yet our careers can be incredibly rewarding. Daily life is messy too- full of grungy toilets to be cleaned, sweet babies to hug, dreaded appointments to keep, lovely gifts to open, cracked toe nails to cut, inspiring books to read, necessary shopping trips to endure, exciting new skills to learn and sometimes the need to spend a day in your nightgown.
The beginning of different stages of life open up so many messy possibilities we delight in the exciting maze of them. The end of life leaves a myriad of messy loose ends that need tending and tidying.
The messiness of life is challenging and rewarding and interesting and at this point for me definitely worth waking up for each day.