Friday, April 29, 2016

old lady suit

Twice a week I stand at the edge of the pool and wonder what crazy notion ever made me think this was a good idea. There are treadmills or pilates classes or even just a good old fashioned book to occupy my time while Quinn swims, and yet I drag myself to that pool edge every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, dreading the shock of cold water as I put on my cap and goggles. The matron in the swim shop tried to convince me my suit was for "older ladies," and I should consider something younger with wilder patterns or lower cuts. She doesn't know that I've been an old lady since I was born, and neon geometric patterns stretched across my mom abs aren't going to fool anyone about the state of my body. I watch the lap clock tick away seconds as the old lady suit and I wait for just the right time to dive in. You'd think it would get easier, but it doesn't.

The earth is once again showing off her extravagant beauty after the chilling grayness of winter, and I am saying goodbye to another group of students. As perhaps one of the hardest and most rewarding years I might ever see in my career, I am both relieved and sad to see it end. I've lost count of the number of students I've ushered through this stage of life and onto the next one, but these past couple of years have been filled with students who love learning, enjoy science, and want to engage in the difficult questions about truth and reality. They enter into the realness of life with all its troubled chaos, and I am reminded of this Roosevelt quote, popularized recently by Brene Brown:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
I find myself standing on a different edge as I relinquish some of my roles at work to focus more of my time and energy on parenting. The busy schedule came with many accolades and much attention, so it is tempting to stay the course. But this is a season of change, and I feel it no less than my students. The coming year will have more quiet, more rest, more work, and less attention. Yet for me it is the more difficult route. I am ready to start on some new projects, and I'm in desperate need of rest, but stillness is a much more challenging temptation for me than work. Nevertheless, I will put on my old lady suit, drag myself to the edge, and jump in. Because that is my next arena, and I have no desire to sit on the sidelines.