It was just a few weeks ago, but it seems like just yesterday … and at the same time, it also seems like ages and ages ago. First there was a Tweet, then an email conversation, then a telephone conversation. And all of a sudden, I had an offer in hand to teach some Latin classes online, from home, for an exciting little company in New Jersey that partners with school districts to offer hard-to-staff classes … and the Tres Columnae Project had several dozen new subscribers. What to do, I wondered? Should I take it, or should I go back to the Same Old Same Old, put my head down, and hope for better days ahead?
The answer was obvious, of course. So this is a week of a new adventure. I have a few obligations left at the Almost Former School, but this afternoon I’ll teach the first of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum classes, and then this evening I’ll be at a “virtual orientation” for a whole new group of Latin Family members. Things start up with yet another group on Thursday. And Friday will mark my first full day of working from home, The Dog (most likely) asleep at my feet as we all start a new adventure. From what I’ve been told, the schools and districts involved are excited by the opportunity to try something new. “The one client,” I was told, “was really impressed” with Tres Columnae.
I “just happen” to know one of the former teachers, who’s moved on to other things this year. And when I told her, she was so happy … and I was, too.
And yet it wasn’t just B’s funeral that put me in a sad, reflective mood over the past few days. For all the joy of a new adventure, there’s also a feeling of loss. I’ll never really know the newest Latin Family members at the Old School. I won’t be around for proms and graduations for the set I came to know last year. No more Old Familiar Classroom, no more conversations with Ms. X and Mr. Y … no more daily contact with some of the friends I’ve come to treasure over the past thirteen years.
No more Same Old Same Old. And even though I haven’t loved the Same Old Same Old for a long time, it’s still comfortable and familiar … and letting go of that comfortable familiarity is harder than you might think.
But then I hear B’s voice telling me to get over myself. And I think of B, who left a very comfortable Same Old Same Old just a few years before she retired. A long-time assistant principal at That School had just been named principal at a Very Different School, and she asked B to come with her and take on a Very Different Role. And B, who loved adventures, took the job. “But nobody ever leaves That School!” people thought. “It’s where you go to retire!” And yet B left … and then, a few years later, T left … and it wasn’t that long before I left.
That seems like yesterday, too. I remember a Much Younger Me making that transition, cleaning out that classroom, moving things to a new one. I remember learning a new school culture, making new friends, connecting with a new branch of the Latin Family … and even that new adventure brought mixed feelings.
But it wasn’t long before the mixed feelings translated themselves into gratitude … and I can feel that happening this time, too. I read Ed Bacon’s chapter about Truth yesterday, and then the chapter about Candor. This is the day that students and colleagues “officially” find out about my new adventure, and I needed clarity about what, how, and when to tell them.
But I’m fairly sure that everybody already knows … or knows something.
Truth and Candor, in Ed Bacon’s terms, flow from a place of Generosity and a place of Stillness in your inner being. And as I’ve moved through this exciting process, I can clearly see how that’s been true. It all started with Generosity … with the decision, all those years ago, to build a joyful learning community that would build meaningful things together as they learned Latin and Roman history and Roman culture. If we’d hoarded what we built, no one would ever have known, and this new adventure never would have come. But if I’d let my fear and agitation rule the day, I would have said “no” to the new adventure … and I can’t even imagine doing that now. I had to be open to the Truth that it was time to move on, and I desperately needed an inner Stillness to allow that Truth to sink in. And then, as I made the transition, Candor was vital. “Opportunities are rare; you should seize them,” said one Wise Friend who I thought might try to persuade me to stay. “You know you have to do this,” said another.
And B, if she were here to talk with me, would have asked me why I even hesitated for a moment. But B was like that!
On this exciting, transitional day, I’m looking forward to building and sustaining a whole new set of joyful learning communities. I’ll miss the ones we’ve built in the past, but I know they’ll be in capable new hands. I wonder what other insights and discoveries await in the exciting hours, days, and weeks to come!