When I woke up this morning, my left eye was swollen shut. A stye, I think, though no amount of hot compresses have brought it to a point, so who knows, really. At least it’s settled down enough that I can see. I had already taken today off sick; I wasn’t quite sick yesterday, but I was far from my best, and I knew my run-down body needed a break. Turns out, I have slept much of the day because I am, in fact, sick.
When I haven’t been napping, I’ve mostly been deep in a giant bean bag accompanied by a book, the puzzle section of The New York Times, and cats. We haven’t done much, and I’m ok with that.
While I’ve rested, I’ve wondered what I should write for the final day of this Slice of Life Challenge. I’ve wondered this every year that I’ve participated. After a month, I’m used to the practice of noticing and holding on to moments, of seeing how what is happening today brings up memories of what happened years ago. I love the way that writing daily makes me pay attention to the world around me (special thank you to Stacey for dreaming this up years ago to help get through March and to the Two Writing Teachers team for supporting this). I’ll miss this, even though doing it every day is hard.
I teach narrative writing at some point every semester, and I often tell my students that the universal lives in the specific. We connect best with friends and strangers when we share our very specific feelings or experiences – everyone has lived moments of joy or fatigue, grief or giddiness. This challenge is about sharing those moments, creating a community through that connection, through those stories.
I started this month with some trepidation: school systems are in a state of flux right now, and teaching is harder than I’ve ever known it to be. We need to have some hard conversations about things that don’t really fit into the “Slice of Life” model. I wasn’t sure I could write honestly for a month without talking about those hard things, but I did it. Mostly.
When I look back over my posts, I can see some of my concerns lurking behind and beneath my words, but that’s ok, I think, because reading and writing for a month with teachers from around the world means that I can also see the ways in which we hold each other up and, more importantly, how we share the dreams we have for schools and the world we’re striving to create. I can see how many teachers (and coaches and retired teachers and people in the world of education) are dedicated to our children and how, even though many of us are really, really tired, we don’t just cling to hope, we create it.
And so I leave March better than I entered it, better able to find the kernels of joy, better able to rest when I need to and fight for what is precious, better able to teach and, truly, to be taught. If you’re reading this, that’s probably because of you.
See you on Tuesdays.