This has been a long, trying summer that has pushed every one of my boundaries and challenged me to really understand how much I can handle before I break. Apparently, it's a fair amount. Regardless of what you are waiting for: agents to get back to you, editors to respond, your book to come out, reviews to come in, strikes to end, school to start-- the very act of waiting is a tedious, debilitating thing. That sounds dramatic, but I find that waiting is so much harder than just having to face something and deal with it. When we are forced to sit on the sidelines, unknowing of what is happening behind the scenes, what the outcome will be, and how it will truly affect us, we are under far more pressure than having to actually make a decision and act.
Between the waiting for responses or waiting for this strike (the longest teacher strike in BC history) to end, I have felt an overwhelming restlessness that refused to abate. Every. Single. Second. There is something about having no control that makes this feeling worse. Alas, (yes I just said alas because I like that word) it is coming to an end. Tomorrow, three full weeks into the school year, after missing the last two weeks of June, we are going back into the classroom. Am I happy? Yes. But I'm also the opposite of happy. Not sad. Happy, defined by Websters, is "delighted, pleased, glad, over some particular thing". Yes, I am those. But when I think about going back, reestablishing a routine that involves working full time, being with my family, and fitting in writing, my chest gets tight and I wonder how. How I did it before and how I will manage again.
Change of routine can be a hard thing for many people. For me, it is a multifaceted trigger. I don't like when things are over, but I like when things start. I don't like getting up and going to work, but I love being there. I don't like being away from my family, but I enjoy being with others. I know that I managed to write more than one full-length novel, while working full time and being a reasonably competent (sometimes even good) mom and wife. Yet, I can't get my mind around how to go back and do that, starting tomorrow.
I would imagine that there are a lot of people with mixed feelings about tomorrow. Happy and sad. Excited and worried. The more I write, the more I see the correlations between teaching and writing. It is something you do because you can't imagine not doing it. That is what I was faced with quite often this summer as I subbed my newest manuscript and waited for any sort of news about the strike ending: I wondered, is this still what I want to do? Do I want to teach? Write? Put myself out there, in the classroom and the writing community when I'm not sure that it'll always be a positive response? That it won't always work well, that you can't please everyone? The answer ends up being yes. Even when I tried to explore the idea of what I could do other than teach, I couldn't come up with anything (other than writing) that I wanted to do as much as I have always wanted to be a teacher. Same with writing. I could stop now. I could close all of my open word documents, take a break from Twitter, and just be done. But it doesn't stop it from being there, from wanting it. So I guess, if anything good came out of the strike, or out of some rejection letters, it was that it made me sure.
I'm as sure that I want to keep teaching as I am that I'm not ready to close up my word documents yet. All of this waiting, this hovering around inside of my own gloomy thoughts, showed me, for sure, that there is something worse than waiting: the thought of not doing either of the things I love at all.
I guess the simple reason we put up with waiting and not knowing and not getting the answers we want, is because the opposite of that is giving up and letting go. And if you think I'm bad at waiting....you can't even imagine how bad I am at letting go. So I haven't and I can't see myself doing that anytime soon.
But thanks to my powers of second guessing, I'll likely regret positing something that's nothing more than a random jumble of feelings that probably didn't need to be shared. So read quick, in case I pull the post ;)
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