Storm clouds gather…
November’s rolled in with its cooler nights and damp mornings. I find myself wanting to go to bed and sleep for days; I am so bone weary. The dark night. The fertile night. The howling soul. My longing for hibernation has begun.
It’s Sunday, a day of [supposed] rest.
I long to settle into the quiet, reading and sorting and writing, as a kind of sabbath for the week.
However, at this time of year, I often work six or seven days a week to keep up with the tsunami of papers I must grade and get back to my students.This fall has been particularly tough. Home is chaotic on a good day; a total madhouse on a bad one. My mom’s still unpacking, but we’re gradually developing a rhythm. However, everything this past month feels off kilter, out of sorts.
Even the dog is restless, pacing and digging and whimpering.
As I graded this last round of papers, I fell into a state of utter joylessness I haven’t felt in a very long time. I’ve never exactly enjoyed grading papers, but I didn’t loathe it.
Now, I hate it.
Now, I find it difficult to motivate myself to start reading and marking up papers at all. I feel demoralized by the clear lack of effort I see. It’s depressing.
As a teacher, I feel I am failing to motivate my young charges. I know in my heart of hearts this is not the case, but I wonder if I could do more.
At the same time, I am certain I have no more to give.
I am wiped out.
This, too, shall pass…
So, into this malaise, I pour my frustration and sadness — my feelings of uselessness — and I wonder if perhaps my talents could be put to better use elsewhere.
In another six weeks, this batch of students will move on, and I will finally rest over the holidays. I imagine I will regain my sense of purpose.
Or, I certainly hope so.
I admit I want to be a writer who teaches, rather than a teacher who writes.
Falling through the page…
When I write, I find my way back to myself. The words may come in a tangle, or burble up from somewhere unexpected, but I feel most like myself when am writing.
As I write, I feel plugged in, alive, certain (even when I am uncertain).
Don’t get me wrong; I still love teaching. I love mentoring young minds and seeing them develop, open and engage with the world, life, and other people. Absolutely, I love that.
But grading English papers has become drudgery. What. Is. The. Point.
I hand the paper back — carefully marked with notes and advice — and find it dropped in the trash at the backdoor of the classroom when I get ready to leave.
I do in-person conferences and no one takes a single note.
My careful consideration of each person’s work seems unjustified and unappreciated.
I find myself thinking: there must be something more than this.
What’s next for me?
I think what’s arising from deep within me is a desire for soul growth. I need to stretch my capacity, yet again. I need to dawdle and draw and dream. I need to find a like-minded tribe of soul fools, tricksters and mad muses.
Whenever I start to bristle when faced with my current surroundings, I know I am experiencing a growth spurt that’s pushing the boundaries of my life. I know it’s asking more of me. It’s demanding I become what I came here to be.
I cannot stay put. I cannot be fenced in.
Like most artists, I hear the wildness of life calling me with an insistence that makes me ache.
I hear a she-wolf howling under a white moon.
She’s got her hooks in my tethered soul and she’s pulling hard to free me.
I know this from experience. It won’t be long now. I will break what binds me.
I will follow my soul out into the moonlight.
I will howl under the Taurus moon. I will see where the book of my life goes next.
© 2014 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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10 thoughts on “Stormy Weather”
I think this must have been how my first Creative Non-Fiction Writing instructor must have felt as she prepared to retire after our class. She looked weary and we talked briefly in conference about how much remedial English she was required to teach. I was so deeply inspired by her and her fortitude that I gave her a new blank journal at the end of our term, for her to write about the next leg of her journey. She sent me a thank you card, with an inspirational note about my writing skills and four years later it still hangs above my desk.
Thanks for the shot in the arm! That’s a wonderful anecdote. I am so glad you encountered her.
So hear you on this one! Have you read Mary Rose O’Reilly’s great little book on burnout, The Garden at Night? http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Night-Burnout-Breakdown-Teaching/dp/0325008485/ref=la_B001JRWU1A_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414961946&sr=1-4#reader_0325008485
It really helped put things into perspective for me. This is such a hard time of year for those of us who teach writing, and you’ve had an EXTRA hard year, now with new responsibilities caring for your mom. Having walked that road a few years back with my father, I know the difficulties of struggling to keep balance. Know you’re not alone and have an ally waaaaayyy the hell east in Vermont (aka “brrrrmont”). Hang in there!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I was a teacher for many years. I often felt like Sisyphus, struggling to raise students to even slightly higher heights.
With time, I recognized the difference between teaching and learning. Those who desire to learn are unstoppable.
I turned my attention to encouraging the little sparks of interest into warmer glows, or even flames.
I haven’t turned back.
Enjoy your charges while you may, as your influence may not be apparent at first.
Thanks, I really needed to hear this. It is deeply appreciated.
I too sense a change in the wind. Shifts are happening. While I can appreciate your frustration and sense of malaise, as you said, it will pass. And for what it is worth, you ARE a writer who teaches. I’ve been following your beautiful pieces since I first encountered you on Rebelle Society a couple of years ago. I ‘met’ you as a writer but you have taught me so much through insightful, meaningful and encouraging articles. So, to me, you are already a writer who teaches. Thank you. 🙂
Wow, this comment brought me to tears. Thanks for being the ‘universe’s mouthpiece.’ Thank you for telling me that these pieces are flying out of me and finding other kindred spirits. I needed to hear that.
We all have our moments of doubt. No matter how profound others find our wisdom to be. In my experience, when we are brave enough to sit with our doubts and fears, and we grow to understand them and ask for help, the Universe always answers. 🙂 Happy to have helped.
I love this piece because you took the thoughts out of my head and words from my mouth. Towards the end of my teaching time, I felt EXACTLY this way. But know this, Sis, your work is not for naught. At least one person appreciates and benefits from all your hard work. Do not despair. These are times like none other. Hang in. Keep your thoughts high.