Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's Funny How Things Work Out

(I wrote the first 1/3 of this last year.   I wanted to give it a place to be.)

Like many people, I am a fan of quotations.  These pearls of wisdom that seem so perfectly formed and easily spoken are as close as I can come to the word of God, for they appear, seemingly unbidden, at just the right time in my life to comfort me, prod me, or give me direction and counsel.  

How words find me in this way is eternally mysterious to me, but such thinking pumps at the very heart of religion.  It is not a coincidence that one version of the Old Testament begins, "In the beginning was the word."  I find…I have always found such solace in the thoughts of others, and I moved away from that, drawn by the desire to do more than play with words and, perhaps, to run from the fact that I could never master them.  What I found in design was a place where my thoughts could rest in the real.  Where ideas were manifest in objects, places, things.  To me this was peace.  Chasing the dreams of words, however beautiful, however playful and melodic, was just playing with ideas.  Design brought thought and ideas into the real world.  I lived there and preached it for several years.  

And then I gave it all up to go back to words as a teacher of a new English class for gifted students at the High School.  

We and our worlds are little more than the stories we tell ourselves.  For 20+ years I had been writing one story and then...?  Then I changed it.  I'm not sure how some people do it, how they can change themselves so easily and quickly and write a new story.  Or I wasn't sure how they did it until I did.  Truly, I struggled to hold myself together last year.  Even with Campbell's words of guidance and my wife and friends to help me, I couldn't see how to begin a new story until I learned to open my eyes and accept the life that was waiting for me. 

And that's where Campbell's words ring so true.  I encountered them in late August of last year, just before I started in my new position.  And I rediscovered them (and the better part of the first 1/4 of this post) just today.  I accepted the life that was waiting for me.  I don't think I'd go back now.  And that's the funny part.  I visited a therapist a few times last year to talk things out.  He helped me immensely, and one of the things he said was, "these things have a way of working themselves out." I know what you're thinking, "You paid for that platitude?"  But it was true.  I'm on a different career path now, finding a way to combine my passion for getting kids to learn by thinking like designers with my love of words.  And my district is offering me a chance to design an entire academy within the school driven by this philosophy I've followed for so long.

I've no earth shattering realization here.  Something happened, I lived through it, I came out on the other side, I'm the better for it.  Campbell seemed to know so much, 'cause right now I'm thinking, "Hey, that's just like the monomyth, Campbell's Hero's Journey."  And maybe it is, and if so, then it just proves I'm human.  

I'll live with that.