I am struggling.
I am struggling to find something to write about. This is ridiculous because there is a very obvious thing to write about. But I am petulant and angry and frightened and I don’t WANT to write about it. Yet not writing about it seems unfathomable. Everything – everything – is touched by the thing I don’t want to write about. It is Voldemort in disease form: that which must not be named.
I am struggling to do the work for the course I am taking. Ten days ago I was interested, but now writing about assessment & evaluation in English courses feels ridiculous. I usually dive deep into research and learning, eager to improve my practice and my students’ experiences. Now it seems silly. Who cares how we assess listening when I cannot even see my students? Who cares about grades when we need to be reading the world?
I am struggling because we don’t yet have direction from our school board about how we are going to proceed Monday when our March Break ends. I mean, we know we are not going back for at least the next two weeks, but what then? Online learning? For how long? In what form? I miss my students (which is odd because it was technically March break). I want to give them some sense of stability, some sense that we are learning and moving together.
I am struggling because so much of my family lives in the US and I live in Canada. And these two countries are not responding to the thing I do not want to write about in the same way. And I am frightened for the people I love.
I am struggling because my parents are not reacting to this in the way that I wish they would. I want them to stay home, stay safe, stop working, have others do their shopping for them. I want them to understand that *they* are in the high-risk category. They want to make their own decisions, to weigh the risks themselves. I am struggling to remember that I am the child, not the parent. I am struggling to accept that we will all make our own decisions.
I am struggling because I am making choices for my own children and the child of another family who is staying with us this semester. I have just told the 18-year-old that he cannot go stay with his girlfriend. I have told the 9-year-old and the 11-year-old that they cannot play with their friends. I have told them all that they must take walks, find projects to keep busy, stop complaining. I have told them that they must follow rules that I used to tell them they could challenge.
I am struggling to be kind to myself. To eat well and to exercise enough. To recognize that I am overwhelmed. I am struggling to focus. I am struggling to find the happy medium between acceptance and fear.
Online, an old colleague used the word “abide.” The word felt calm and solid. I wanted a touchstone, so I looked it up. Bear with me here:
Definition of abide (Merriam-Webster)
1a: to bear patiently : TOLERATE
b: to endure without yielding : WITHSTAND
2: to wait for : AWAIT
3: to accept without objection
1: to remain stable or fixed in a state
2: to continue in a place : SOJOURN
Calm and solid, yes, but not easy, this word, this abide. At first I thought that abide was nearly the opposite of struggle – and I am struggling. I despaired a little: I cannot abide. Then I realized that, in fact, the opposite of to abide is to give up, to quit, to leave. One can struggle and still abide. I can struggle and still abide.
I want to write about moments and memories; pleasures and problems; issues and ideas. I have all of these things to write about. For today, however, I will abide. For today, I will acknowledge that, for me, to abide I will have to struggle.
And I am struggling.