Two quotes are on my mind today:
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
How can I miss you if you won’t go away?
Once I return the repaired stand-up bass to the school today, I am officially done, over and out, signed, sealed and delivered, with the 2017-18 school year. Many peaks, no more than the fair share of valleys and much level ground that is still a pleasure to walk on. And after saying goodbye to four more 15 to 30-year comrades-in-crime (surely it is a crime to have so much damn fun at a job and feel like you’re doing such worthy, important work), the constant nagging question of when I’m ready to gracefully walk out and enter the growing gang of retired, rewired, refired young elders who are my peers is always on my mind. But since the school is still Shangrila in the midst of the Wasteland, I see no reason to go. (And don’t forget that in that Lost Horizon book and movie, those who were granted immortal youth inside of Shangrila instantly grew old if they left!)
But my 43-year longevity has certainly been made easier by a last 18 years of anywhere from six week to 4 months off during the year to write, study, travel and teach, to spend time in the other Shangrilas of a blessed life. And after five years of the short six-week variety, I’m back to 4 months off this Fall to catch up on various books I want to get written. So counting the summer, it will be seven full months before I go back to school and re-enter the schedule!
Had a talk with some colleagues yesterday of “kids we will be happy to miss for a while.” Of course, it is and will continue to be our job to learn how to love them more than their behavior allows us to. But we were all looking forward to loving them from a great distance. And even though that appears as a euphemism for “you are really hard to love when I’m actually with you,” there is some truth in the fact that even those we effortlessly love sometimes can be loved deeper when we take a break from each other. Just before my wife took off for biking in Bavaria and safari’ing in South Africa, we realized that I’d be gone when she came back and she’d be off to Michigan when I got back and it would be two and a half months before we’ll see each other again! That’s a long time—though just a drop in the bucket in the context of a 44-year relationship. I am loving her from a distance more than we she tells me to load the dishwasher the way she likes to. You know what I mean.
Part of the health of all relationships is time away. This is built-in to my school schedule as I teach classes every other year (3 year olds, 5’s, 2nd grade, 4th, 6th, 8th) while my colleagues do the opposite and thus, we both get a year on, year off, relationship over 11 years. That works well.
So at the start of a seven-month “summer,” my heart is growing fonder for all the kids, parents, teachers at school that I will love from a comfortable distance. See you later!