In teaching as in life, the battle is constant; the struggle is real. Head and heart locked in conflict, as divided as together, as different as the same, as trusting as suspicious. And we get caught in the middle, torn between the two halves of our being, forced to find peace for our two ends.
On my “headier” days, I find the emotional objectivity that I need to be the high-expectation-wielding, realtor-of-rigor figure that my position requires. I boast outwardly, slinging sayings, “You’ll learn or you won’t,” “Sink or swim,” “There are choices and there are consequences,” and so on. I am large and in charge, armed with perhaps a neutral indifference, refusing to take personally or give into the, at times, maddening reality of wasted youth. I am Syrie. Hear me roar.
But, on my “heartier” days, I drown in empathy, immersed emotionally in my kids and their needs. I shed my shield of objectivity; I shrug my quiver of platitudes from my shoulder; and I let fall my sword of severity. I reflect inwardly, wondering worriedly, “Am I doing enough?” “How else can I motivate them?” “Do they trust me?” I am no longer so large, and I feel no longer in charge as I yield to the compassion I feel for the trial that is youth. I am Syrie. Let me help.
And so, lion and lamb. He who roars. And he who bleats. At once neither but always both. I have learned a lot about myself this year. I have learned I know nothing. For twenty years, when I looked in the teaching mirror, a solid, familiar me looked back; even with long spans between looks, I always found a familiar comfort in my image. And then there is this year, a year with daily deep dives into my identity, a year of every-early-morning looks into my soul with each 180 post. And each day a shimmer of an image, nothing solid, at times a face unknown, a stranger looking back. Me, torn between the halves. My head telling me to go back, “We’ve not come too far.” But in answer, my heart pulling me forth, drawing me ever deeper, “We’ve too much at stake. We’ve come too far. Do not lose faith.” And I follow. I heed my heart. But I do not leave my head. I need it, too. The halves made whole.
Last week, friend and colleague Nicole Nanny sent me the image below with the message “Have heart!” I have. Too much, maybe.
Happy Tuesday, all. Back here Monday after break. Hope everyone has a terrific turkey day. May you find thanks and joy in your family and friends. Sorry for the odd post this morning. Feeling a little existential on my 45th this morning.