Friday, July 17, 2009

The Awareness of Summer

During the summer, the routine at Wayfarer House changes a bit. It’s not any less busy, per se, but it is focused on things very different from those that occupy my time when school is in session. In years past, I’ve not really had the luxury to take time “off”; there’s always been something curricular or otherwise related to my teaching that’s needed attention. Not so this year. In part because I’ve resigned as both AD and soccer coach at my school, but also because the need to use the summer to prepare for the upcoming school year lessens as I have been teaching at the same school longer and longer, I’ve been blessed with a goodly amount of time to pursue training for the two triathlons I want to race (both of which take place in August) and I have been able to work on rebuilding some important personal growth routines, blogging being among the latest of them. I’ve even been able to indulge in regular naps. Most of you know I have short internal batteries. Being able to recharge them, especially while doing heavy amounts of physical exercise, is a wonderful blessing.

The summer also means I’m around the house a great deal more than usual during school. As a result of this, I see more consciously the amount of work that needs to be done to keep the swirling vortex of activity we call a house from falling into complete chaos and decrepitude. I see with great vividness the endless stream of laundry. The dishes seem to scream at me every time I pass through the kitchen. The kids’ things cannot be cleaned up well enough or regularly enough to appease my rather non-standard sense of order. All these things are so much more evident to me during the summer and, as a result, are far more irksome to me than they might be otherwise, when out of necessity, I will compartmentalize my awareness of them so that I can focus on the myriad other monkeys on my back.

I give you today as an example: There are at least 4 baskets of laundry that need to be folded and 2 that need to be run through the machines; the kitchen is full of dirty dishes, but the dishwasher is full and needs to be emptied (I have to own the fact that it didn’t run until this morning); the floor needs to be vacuumed--again (Karla can attest to the fact that it was done just a couple of days ago, but, for a variety of reasons, the house gets dirty quickly in the summer); and last, but not least, the girls things are undergoing a slow but inevitable rate of encroachment such that they must surely engulf the house, much as Hemingway’s sharks must eventually devour Santiago’s great fish. Add to this, please, the ubiquitous collection of projects large and small that seems to diminish in size like the puddle you tried to scoop dry with your hands in a rainstorm when you were a kid and the relational demands that are regularly part of being a member of Wayfarer house, and you can see how tempting it can be to say, “That’s enough!” drop everything and deal with it all.

The thing is, I’ll never get it all done. I could spend all day, every day of my summer, working to get ahead on these tasks and I would never see the end of them. However greatly they wind me up, I have to recognize that I cannot do all of them at once. I have to commit myself to a certain list of things, according to a basic standard of prioritization and, as long as I have done those things, I must live with what remains.

I’ve been seeing in this an unnerving parallel to my work with the Community School. I'm working on a post for the Community School blog to discuss this more, but it won't be ready until tomorrow. Check the link, though. It might be there early.

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