As always, I arrived first for school the day after the Christmas break. Going back to a job that continues to be more constricting and less rewarding requires jumping in, no thinking or fuss. The alarm went off at 4:30. I made coffee, wrote for an hour and a half, packed lunch, ate breakfast. I said hello and goodbye to my early-rising wife and drove into the frigid, wind-swept morning. Walking into my classroom, it was a day like any other.
A colleague arrived and said, “isn’t this a great surprise?” Not knowing what she was talking about but reluctant to engage, I agreed and then let her go. She returned minutes later mentioning a two-hour delay. By the time I checked online, the schools that feed our program had closed. No kids today. That really is a great surprise.
Today extends the vacation and I’m working on writing ideas and projects to push myself. Over break I published to this blog, wrote new poems, and began a larger project. It is good work I love to do even without being paid for it.
It seems that doing what I love should turn into a career and maybe it will, but I reject the idea of doing what you love. I love writing but I’m not ready to quit teaching and throw in with fate. I’ll keep writing. Where it takes me isn’t my concern just now. It’s enough that it takes me to the next word.
The same applies to running. I’m not working on personal records. Years ago I worked to do a sub-25-minute 5K and did it. The only thing to do then was to run it a sub-20. I had no interest in doing so and knew that trying to would lead to me not running. I’m not that guy.
I’m not interested in writing the Great American novel. I have a passing interest in writing something long, but I’m not a novel writer. Novelists builds skyscrapers. I can barely construct a shelf.
I write poetry and essays, neither of which will make a fortune. Billy Collins makes plenty off poetry and The New Yorker pays some essay writers handsomely, but I’m not Billy Collins or a New Yorker staff writer.
This is okay.
Though school isn’t in session today, I am a school teacher. Though I am slow and overweight, I am a runner. Though I am largely unpublished and can’t make a living at it yet, I am a writer. I’m not teacher of the year, won’t win any races, and my readership is unlikely to swell beyond two dozen, but none of this is any good reason not to write on and see what happens next.
School’s out. Writing is in. Running comes next. And on and on.