This blog has lain dormant for seven weeks. This was not intentional—at first, anyway. Several causes for this silence may be pinpointed.
First, I have been sick: the flu for a week, then a sinus infection…for three more weeks and counting. Yep, Thursday marked the start of week five. Sigh. (Guess who finally got smart and went to get antibiotics today?)
Second, fear and resistance have been rearing their ugly but familiar heads. Fear that this blog (read: my writing) will suck and that anyone who reads it will know I’m a fraud and a fool. Resistance to the habit of writing. (But I’ve been sick! <read in pathetic, whimpery voice>) Resistance to Lent and the disciplines I am supposed to be imposing on myself. Resistance even to doing things I enjoy.
Naturally, my recent reading has been kicking my ass about these two very issues. Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception is a unique read. This guy…I swear to God…. In ‘part zero’ of the book, he talks about art, and the comfort zone, and change, and courage. He says, “Sometimes, courage is the willingness to speak the truth about what you see and to own what you say […and] courage is necessary because owning our point of view brings risk” (17). This not only speaks to some of my hesitancy about writing but also hits home concerning my job, as I will be taking on a new position in the new school year, one with a reduced teaching load and that will require me to speak all kinds of truth in humility to both my colleagues and my administrators.
And then Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, explores Resistance, which feels like my middle name right now. He capitalizes Resistance because Resistance is all of these things: the enemy, the most toxic force in the universe, that which keeps us from putting our ass in the chair and writing, the barrier between the life we live and “the unlived life within us,” the root of unhappiness, the deformer of the spirit. After investigating the nature of Resistance (because, as Pressfield says, quoting the Dalai Lama, “the enemy is a very good teacher”), he goes on to claim that the way to combat Resistance is to turn pro (as opposed to remaining an amateur). The next part of the book draws distinctions between pro and amateur. One gem: “The amateur, underestimating Resistance’s cunning, permits the flu to keep him from his chapters” (80). Yeah. Ouch. I guess that extends to sinus infections, too, huh?
Third, and totally related to the aforementioned issues, is that I’ve been having a blog identity crisis. I think this blog needed a seven-week (figurative) road trip to find itself. In conversation last weekend with my friend/writing buddy/sometime- (ok, frequent-) spiritual advisor, I was complaining about not being clear on what my bloggy purpose and identity should be. She said, “Everywhere you go, you always meet teachers.” She was implying we meet people who are like us, fall into conversation with them, get their email addresses and friend them on Facebook. Well, shit. Shit, because this is true, and shit, because this also comes back to fear and Resistance for me. Fear, because if I go all teacher on this blog, I’ll either have to stay pseudonymous for fear of people discovering where I teach, or I’ll have to water down and distort the people and events I want to tell stories about due to privacy issues. Resistance, because most days I’m not entirely sure I want to stay a teacher, and identifying as one and blogging about being one might be difficult given my pervasive ambivalence about this career and education system.
And yet…when she said it, it resonated. And just because I blog about teacher-ish things doesn’t mean I’m signing a life contract to remain one. And God knows I’ll have plenty of material to write about, given the daily exposure I have to lots of humanity (and some inhumanity, too). And just because I talk about teachery stuff doesn’t mean I can’t still focus on the x’s, the overlaps, the crossings, the inversions, the parallels, the chiastic sorts of events and realizations that seem to crop up in life and job and reading all the time.
I guess you can just call me Teacher X.