Sorry I haven’t been reflecting much this month. Well, that’s not true, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit, but I haven’t had the energy to type it up. We’ve had a number of moments since school started again which took the wind out of my sails, leaving me wishing I could go to bed at around 5 every evening.
The most exciting thing happening is that we are in the last full week of rehearsals for our yearly intermediate school play (“intermediate” is like “middle” only a little younger and a different word). Like my last school, we take one dark and dreary Northwest month and put on a play. This means that although there is a math class everyday, students are spending all of their time learning lines and practicing for three performances. They write no papers, they have no homework besides reading a novel in preparation for a paper after the play, math, and learning lines.
At my last school, I was the director of three Shakespeare plays and was assisted with two of them by Grace Castle, nee Guenther, a very capable young woman with, thankfully, a degree in theater from Eastern Washington University. This time around I’m in Grace’s role (as I was last year) to an amazing director named Jean Sherrard. The level of accomplishment to which he brings his young actors is astonishing.
This year, though, I am fortunate to be a member of the cast. Through a series of circumstances, we were one performer short of what we need for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Well, to be honest, “fortunate” is pushing it. I’m lucky that I have never really had a fear of speaking in front of others. And, I’ve been acting since I was about 6. And, I’m a teacher, a skill that calls on acting skills nearly every day. Still, I think most people can understand the trepidation I feel in going up not just in front of parents to speak, but going up with my students in front of parents to perform. If I am not perfect, I embarrass my students. If I am too good, I run the risk of up-staging them. Although, seriously, I run little risk of that.
For my own purposes (read sanity), I want to lay out what I’m in charge of here. I’m the supervising teacher, which means helping the teachers I work with have what they need to run on schedule and making sure that when emergencies happen the students still feel safe within the structure of the school. It also means helping with prospective students and their parents. I’m a teacher, which means teaching students in the moments when I am not an actor. I’m an actor, which means learning my lines, cues, and business. And also stage manager, which means keeping students quiet, managing props when already in the theater, calling lines, and figuring out when breaks need to be over. Sometimes all of these roles happen at once.
Thankfully, my school is awesome and realized I would implode if I didn’t get some time away from my yahoots. Therefore, I am not overseeing lunches or breaks which is a huge relief. I haven’t been an actor for a few years, and I forget how much energy goes into trodding the boards. So, yeah, I’m a little tired. But I can’t be as tired as Jean who has been dealt some horrible blows to his family this year. And I’m nowhere near as tired as I was when I was the director. I thank the fates that those days are over. I beat myself up for not having the energy to go home and study for the GREs, or get to the gym, or go to my knitting group (therapy if there ever was some), or even meditate. Mostly I find that going home making dinner and playing with our new puppy and my cats is what I can manage. I did climb mt. laundry in expectation of my parent’s visit this weekend.
And this brings me to the thing I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting upon over this year: Today is my only today. And I find myself using phrases like, “Oh, I’m hanging in there,” or “Is it Friday yet?” This bothers me. I only ever get this one Tuesday. Sure there will be more Tuesdays, but I’ll be older by then. And I ask myself, “Where is my beautiful house?” (Sorry, couldn’t help it. Down, mental chipmunks! Down!) But seriously, I do ask myself, if I’m only just hanging in there, if I am so darned tired all the time that I’m not getting the most out of every minute, then am I doing the right thing?
Now, if my father-in-law is correct, and my reflections are only interesting to people who are teachers then I had better quickly explain that I know enough to not expect that each day be joyful or perfect. I’m also not saying that teaching isn’t incredibly gratifying, but I feel that perhaps I’ve headed past satisfying on the highway and am merging quickly into dead-dog tired which kind of negates the satisfying part. I want to enjoy my students, and my lessons, and the play process, not drag my tired butt to bed at 8 worrying that I’ve forgotten something. But I needn’t worry, of course I’ve forgotten something, and I won’t know what until the next day.
So I’ve done it again. I’ve taken on too much. I know that the GREs can wait, and it won’t kill me to put off mediation and the gym for another two weeks. I just want to do it all.