So, Tuesday … amazing, exhausting, remarkable Tuesday! It was definitely a day of The Unexpected, but it was also a day when the directions — and the Wisdom behind them that Debbie had shared with me in her comments on yesterday’s post — were on my mind. I had originally intended to take a morning flight from my local airport to Austin for SXSW EDU, but “for some reason” i wasn’t comfortable making the arrangement, surrendering the frequent-flier points, until fairly close to the time. By then, I’d realized two things: first, I wasn’t feeling that well, so might benefit from a quiet morning at home rather than a frantic morning of travel, and second, a non-stop flight from Charlotte (largest nearby major airport) to San Antonio (much larger airport than Austin’s, but less than two hours away) might be both easier and cheaper.
And, in the end, so it was. But the whole day was an adventure in trusting the process and in going different directions. The drive from my house to Charlotte-Douglas Airport takes, as a rule, just over 2 1/2 hours … but somehow it took just over 3 on Tuesday. It was raining — not hard, but a constant steady drizzle that occasionally got heavier — for most of the trip, and I did have to stop once for gas, but still! That drive to Charlotte took longer than it would have in “the old days,” before construction of “future Interstate 74,” when US 74 still went through the heart of every little town within thirty miles of the NC-SC border. Former Me, who had everything perfectly planned and expected those plans to be true, would have been furious and terrified …. but I wasn’t. I was briefly concerned, then full of gratitude and trust as unexpected little, positive gifts occurred: not much traffic, beautiful sights, the memory of how you use the I-485 bypass to get to the airport and avoid the bad traffic.
The “normal” close-in parking lots were all either full or closed, so travelers were redirected to a long-term parking lot … and by then, as I looked at my watch, I was briefly concerned about timing. But again, only briefly concerned. And the shuttle bus came quickly, and the cost of parking there was so much less than I’d expected, and going through security, I met a TSA agent who clearly loves helping and serving people. He was smiling, cracking jokes (“Even if there’s no Hellman’s mayonnaise in Alaska, y’all, you can’t carry it on the plane!”), and even redirecting people to faster checkpoints in other parts of the airport. And I got to my gate as the “Now boarding all rows” announcement was made, and departure was smooth, and the flight itself (3 hours in a large commuter jet) was trouble-free. And my seat-mate and I, after a long period when it looked like we wouldn’t have anything to say to each other, started talking … and of course he works in higher education, and he has two young daughters, and he’s passionately interested in (and deeply concerned about) the effects of factory-model schooling, and 20th-century textbooks, and batch-process approaches that treat everybody the same. So we had a wonderful conversation as the plane began its descent into San Antonio.
And San Antonio, if you haven’t been there, has a truly beautiful airport. And the drive from there to Austin is easy, and I was able to stop at a favorite restaurant I’d discovered back when I had family-and-friend connections in Texas, but hadn’t visited for years. And the condo my co-panelists had found online, for less than one night’s stay in a hotel room, is both beautiful and convenient to the conference location … and getting there was trouble-free when you followed the directions … and GPS apps for smartphones still amaze me … and we were up late with great conversations … and the little Bluetooth keyboard I use for extended writing on a mobile device (the one I’m using as I write these words) was acting like it needed a new battery last night, but it was just fine this morning.
Expect the unexpected, I said on Monday and Tuesday, and trust the process … and learn to trust. Debbie then led me to some of the Native wisdom about the cardinal directions, with South representing the heart and North the intellect, while East stands (among many other things) for beginnings and West represents goals and endings. And in one day I made significant moves in all four directions. Which, again, is pretty much how life is … especially when you trust the process and expect the unexpected. I’m looking forward to a full day of conference sessions today, hoping to squeeze in coffee or lunch with one friend and dinner (or something this evening) with another. And then, Thursday afternoon, it will be time to reverse the process and head back home. Like any mountaintop experience, in every culture’s wisdom, you can’t stay on the mountain, but you do have to go when it’s time.
No direct report from school yesterday, though I know that the “Latin Family” conducted itself reasonably well or there would have been such a report. While I was gone, the Latin II classes started reading a happy set of stories newly published on the site, about the birth of Lollius and Maccia’s third surviving child and why his name is Quartus. They’ll be reading, creating illustrations (since none yet exist), and working on their Minor Assessment #1 products all week, as their counterparts in Latin IV and AP do a bit more reading and finish their first Minor Assessment products. And I expect the unexpected will happen for them, too … but in the end even the ardest, most difficult unexpected things will probably somehow yield a harvest of good, if we just slow down, open our eyes, trust the process, and get rid of our 20th-century addiction to following the perfect plan perfectly.
What will I do — what can I do — today, each day, to help build a joyful learning community where I am, in that moment? How will we make it big enough, strong enough, secure enough for Ms. X and other 20th-century refugees to lay down their fearful, shield-like plans and join the circle, join the dance?