Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teach Us to Care, and Not to Care

Life is funny. [Skies are sunny. Bees make honey. Tell me, where is Paradise? I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do. So I leave it all to you...]

Ten Years After, for those of you too young to recognize the lyrics.

It's just after 7 am here in Wisconsin, and I am pondering life, the Universe, and everything [with apologies to Douglas Adams].

My classes are going well--my students seem much more engaged than the batch last year, and that makes my job much easier and more enjoyable.

But other things are, shall we say, a bit of a mess. After news back in August that not only were our healthcare premiums going up, but that we're also going to responsible for $1,000 out-of-pocket, we got word yesterday that the governor has proposed (and will likely get) a wage freeze for all state employees for the next two years. This is on the heels of a wage freeze in 2009, which was followed by furloughs. I guess the silver lining in this plan is that our wages aren't being frozen at the furlough level.

A dear friend is going through a very rough patch, and I can't even hug her because she lives too far away. As I was thinking about her this morning, lines from TS Eliot's poem "Ash Wednesday" popped into my head:

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

I feel so badly for her, and I want to help her. All I can do is sit still, though, and just be here.

I also thought of this portion of the poem, relative to my own situation:

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

I do hope to turn again--but because the hope rests on squarely in the category "IF," I am confronted with the notion that I must both care (about my students) (about my friend) and not care (about all of the things I cannot control). This has been the most difficult lesson of my adult life, and I am still learning it.

Read the full poem here.

1 comment: