My Heart Swells

Windy roads and towering trees. The mountains disappear around the next corner.

My heart swells.

Blinking the sun out of my eyes and continuing the drive, it’s so easy to forget why we left. School, jobs, to experience the world, etc. And always looking back. linked by past, linked by family, linked by future. Seems silly but I can’t shake it and I don’t know if I ever will.
Opportunities ever only fill half a need, only ever provide for half – does that mean we jump in and go or hold on tighter to what has taken so very long to build from nothing?

            We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw          gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre; rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.

– C.S. Lewis – Preface of The Great Divorce

Frozen in time and choices, and the fear that all will be lost.  Constantly and continually we are faced with decisions to be made.  Each choice demanding that it has more significance in our lives than anything else – and then the moment or the week or the month seems to pass and those seemingly significant choices have merged into the fabric of our every day living – our lives have become swollen with them and instead of the thin flesh of our ballooning lives bursting; it expands and creates space for more, and my world becomes larger – fuller. Not the circle after all, but miles and miles of forked roads which create a path yet untraveled.

And so I refocus again and attempt to build a mountain of my own to climb – to lay down in the dry grass under a shady tree and watch the quiet wind ripple through the leaves.  The world spinning below and above and refocusing helps me hold on to that whirling sphere – a small speck of life in a vibrant place.

In my daily commute to and from work this year, I’ve begun listening to books on tape. This has been previously a completely unacceptable form of reading, however, I find that in the 40 minutes I’m sitting in the car I’d much rather listen to someone badly pronounce the words of a book than to some radio station trying to sell me something I don’t want or need just about every 5 seconds. In this way, I finished reading C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce”, and while I knew I’d love it after listening to the preface, I didn’t know I would sob though the last 15 minutes.  I do that when I read books quietly to myself – I didn’t know I would still cry while listening.  The plot of the story is simple and redundant if you’ve read any prior British literature or Dante’s Inferno for that matter – but still thought-provoking in a beautifully imagined way that Lewis seems always capable.  While my own thoughts didn’t especially relate to the literal translation of the allegory (that is funny as I write it) of heaven/hell, I did love this part of it and instead focused on the idea that to better inhabit a space, it takes time to become better acquainted with the atmosphere, the people, the experiences. These things may initially be sharp and painful and I might long for things that once were, but the entire time I am longing for other things I am becoming better able to survive in the sharp, beautiful surroundings in which I find myself. A better formed, more discerning, expanding balloon of the very same me that began this journey. So bring it on 2016, where shall we end up?

I have officially finished my first semester teaching, and it has been a wonderful adventure. I have truly been blessed by my co-workers and I’m so thankful for where I’ve landed. The 7th graders I’m teaching are a mixed bag of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. They’re loud and rambunctious and mostly trying to figure out who they are. They make me thankful for my own kids and for them too – and I hope all of my students are all safe and warm this winter break – but I have a nagging knowledge that many of them are neither of these things and for them I look forward to the start of school next week – the re-establishing of some semblance of consistency and met expectations in a world that is otherwise mad. (Who let me become an English teacher?!  look at that crazy run-on)

Beyond wondering where my students are and what they are up to this break, I have truly truly enjoyed this much needed break from the daily work schedule.  The necessity of commuting is not my favorite part of my job and to just stay home in my pajamas most of the days on break has been a lovely reprieve.  My own children have taken this time to drive me absolutely crazy, but I’m a little sad to see them go back to school tomorrow (even if I do have an extra week off).  They too have enjoyed the lack of schedule and while they probably wouldn’t agree, I like to think they enjoyed that their rooms became just a tad bit cleaner….might just be me really.  This next week I will spend sometimes resting, sometimes reading, sometimes attempting to calm my crazy planning self down as I see the days speed by without lesson plans and grad school work being up to the snuff I’d like them to be, but I do plan to try and enjoy week to it’s fullest extent.  I’m going to enjoy the paths chosen and the roads I’m travelling now.

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists of being put back on the right road.”

-Lewis, Preface again

I have chosen so many roads in this life.  So many forks and intersections and cul-de-sacs. Even the occasional round about where I don’t know when to stop spinning in circles, but for now I think some decent decisions have been made. So I begin the year like most people – making resolutions. I find it ironic to need to be made in January – I’ll do so anyway and probably fail and revise and continue on throughout this year making new resolutions with new plans.

So – I end with a pithy list because I cannot think of a beautiful way to write it, but, as always I am writing to keep myself accountable – even if it’s only because i know more than just myself has read and knows these resolutions exist.

My pithy list of goals to which this New Years finds me resolute:

  1. Write more (I will again be attempting to write once per week at least via blog, more on paper)
  2. Finish the Whole30 (started January 1….only 27 more days until Chocolate!)
  3. Plan light
  4. Listen more
  5. Respond with grace and love
  6. Recognize when I feel guilty and just let it go – Feeling bad doesn’t make anything better
  7. Be thankful

Happy New Year everyone.

Grace and peace to you all.

I hope that wherever you are, you find small bits of life to be thankful for – they do add up.

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