Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not Knowing

I read a great essay yesterday entitled The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur by Leo Babauta but it gave me pain almost as much as I enjoyed it. That's how it goes when I read something that I know is right but which I'm still too timid to follow. Leo seems filled with courage and happy as can be, as though courage and happiness go hand in hand.

His idea boils down to this: "You don't really know how things will turn out. And this is OK. In fact, it's pretty awesome." The more I try to control how things will be and insure that I hit a target, the more anxious I become.

I've had too much experience with anxiety.

He suggest that I breathe and smile. That can be tough for me. I've written too much about learning to breathe through things and be present. It's the big struggle in my life.

Yesterday, I wrote about what makes me anxious about my job. My school is doing big things badly and I have little power there. I feel cooped up, doing small things in the face of big issues. I want to work on a bigger scale.

But how?

A week ago I wrote about my daughter's education and it was the most widely read thing I've ever written. That's a big deal. I had some effect on the issues that matter to me. It was bigger than just working in my classroom.

My wife keeps nominating me for education secretary. This is one of the million reasons I'm in love with her. She thinks big. I wouldn't get far in that job, but it's a good idea to think big. Anxiety keeps me thinking small.

I know a sure-fire way to change, but I'm unwilling to do it. The first step is to quit my job. That would put me in a position where I would have to make things happen. My family wouldn't have health-care, money for bills, and that would light a fire under my ass. The fire, however, might just burn my house down.

Is this an excuse? Is this just fear? Or is it common sense?

I don't know.

Here's what I know right now: I'm don't feel good about schools. I feel best when thinking and writing about change.

Last night, at a Seder dinner, I talked with people about the idea I've been cooking up about a new kind of place that isn't a school but is all about learning. It felt good, talking about it, thinking about issues I want to work out.

A few weeks ago, I sat at a conference with teachers who pushed me to think hard about what is happening and what I want to have happen. That felt great.

Last week, however, at a staff development day, I felt terrible, like a very cog in a lumbering machine being told to go along with the way things are.

There's my data. There's what feels good and what doesn't. I wish I knew what to do about all of that. Not knowing, according to Leo Babauta, is OK, it's pretty awesome. We'll just have to see about it.

I'll write on, but maybe it's time to do something too.