Thursday, December 22, 2011

God Bless Us, Every One!


A friend wrote to tell me that my entry about basketball and teaching interested him and went along with what he had been thinking. He mentioned another game, Idiot Ball, which is transcendental but I explained why I can't play it in school. There are many reasons. It was awfully nice to have someone write to me about something I had written, to say that they had connected with it.

This morning a stranger wrote a comment on another entry that it was the truest thing he had ever read on the subject. I emailed a copy of that comment to my wife and said that it was the single nicest thing I had ever read about my blog writing.

Last night, a woman who also writes a blog, wrote a series of comments to me. We had a little comment conversation as though we had known one another for years, as though were were fast friends. And, in many ways, we are.

And Tuesday night, while sitting in the Carrier Dome watching SU kick the living crap out of Bucknell, my best friend in the world talked carefully and thoughtfully about several things I had posted. His attention to the stuff was obvious and touched me.

All of which explains why, when a student asked me this morning what I want under the tree for Christmas, I was able to say that I was already receiving it. No lie.

This is the year in which I am reinventing myself. I was about to write that it is the year in which "I am _trying_ to reinvent myself," but then I heard Yoda saying, "there is no try," and went with the more affirmative statement. (I don't hear Yoda all that often, but when I do, you bet your ass I take note. The force is strong in that one.) This is the year that I figure things out. I'm talking "school year" here, so it's not like I have to get this all set in nine days (though I wouldn't mind). The reinvention is coming out of writing.

I have long fancied myself a writer but never really published anything. I won a fiction contest once in college, and that was really nice, but then that was pretty much it. The extent of my publishing has been to write poetry, stories, and essays to use in my classroom with students. It has been great, but it turns out that it's not enough for me.

For years I convinced myself that I didn't need publication. I wasn't that writer. And I didn't feel as though I was good enough to be published. So I kept to my notebook, typed on the computer, showed a few things to family and friends and students, and went along with things. That was fine when I was satisfied with my life. Now, I'm thinking that I need more.

A long time ago I wrote on the board of my classroom the following lines: "We have the opportunity to be extraordinary. The choices are ours." I always liked the sound of that, but I think that I only believed it for others. I knew somehow that I was supposed to be extraordinary, but I couldn't figure out how to make that happen and I was afraid to fail.

Everyone says that they are afraid to fail. My particular fear was that failure would lead to the end of trying. I was this way in middle and high school too when it came to talking to girls. I couldn't ask a girl out because she might say no and, if she did, I felt as though there was no recovery.

Well, we all know that's nonsense. Even I know it now.

So this year I'm trying. I've been writing these blog entries. I have gotten two poems published and I'm posting more and getting set to send a bunch more out for publication (or rejection). I'm putting myself out there because I understand that I really do have the opportunity to be extraordinary.

Here's why I know it and why I've gotten what I want for Christmas already: it's because of the notes that I get back from people that help me understand that we all have something to say and that, if we work at it, we can engage others. I've engaged a few people in the short time that I have been publishing. That's the most rewarding thing I can ask for in a professional world. I've created something and it has been of use to others.

I'll keep writing. No way can I stop. And I know that whatever I find to do going forward in this life, it will have writing at its center. I hope that people will keep reading what I write and I hope that you will keep writing back to me. Not just with compliments, but with arguments and disagreements too. I hope that you'll point me toward things I should be thinking and writing about. I hope that you will help me push forward. Basically, I'm saying to myself and to all of you: write on. And thank you.