Tuesday, January 13, 2015

All of Me


“Energy is eternal delight,” wrote visionary poet William Blake. But he might also have added (though admittedly less poetically), “That which gives us eternal delight gives us energy.” With my colleague Sofia in Spain and my colleague James about to head to New Zealand, my class schedule at school has increased dramatically. Combined with after-school teacher-training workshops and more, there is barely room for one little lentil on my very full plate.

And yet. Each thing I’m doing uses all of me, gathers together all the things I’ve taken the time to care about and think about and develop and practice, and puts them to use. Today I improvised my way into talking to 3, 4 and 5 year olds about Martin Luther King and social justice in a way that they could understand and relate to and somehow hit just the right nerve. They were listening in rapt silence as if important truths were being spoken and then sang with great passion the songs that threaded throughout the talk. Earlier, I tried to stir the anger, outrage and passion of 8th graders so that they could bring Langston Hughes’ epic poem “Let America Be America Again” to life and we stumbled into a deep discussion about the many layers of meaning in the poem, which included me spinning the tale of my grandparents emigration from Russia at the turn of the century. I managed to get 1st through 4th graders intrigued about Bob Dylan’s lyrics to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and we added a new song to our protest song repertoire.

And so it went throughout the day. With three more packed days ahead culminating in the always-stirring MLK Ceremony. According to the demands of schedule and sheer number of different groups and ages to lead in song, dance, music and discussion, I should be exhausted. And maybe by Friday I will be! But mostly, as I keep re-discovering, authentic work that calls on one’s talents and interests gives a life and energy that nothing else quite does. It’s a gift beyond measure to fall into such work and have the opportunities to keep at it. I never take it for granted.

To be of use. To keep one’s passions exercised. Eternal delights that give energy. And, yes, Mr. Blake, energy is eternal delight. And, I might add, without coffee or Red Bull.

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