This morning I walked into my classroom to find it colder than the hallway. After some chilly October days we’d all been delighted to have the heat come on, however, a few weeks later, something went wrong with my room's heating unit. A request was put in to get it fixed. I wore extra layers, drank hot cocoa, all in an attempt to adjust to the dropping temps. My students noticed the cooler air too but said, “It's chilly but it’s not TOO bad”. We were all being patient as we waited for some help to arrive.
This morning, finding my room cold again, I walked down to the main office to calmly report the issue and the custodian wasted no time in coming up to fix it. He got the heat fan working and said he’d come back immediately to oil the mechanics of the darn thing if the gears seized up again. He's working on getting my heater a new motor. I thanked him. He said keeping the room warm would be his new priority today. He truly couldn’t have been nicer.
But what I haven’t shared with you yet in this story is how, at 7:00am, feeling the cold air hit me as I walked into my room, I dissolved into tears.
“I can’t do this", were the words that came out of my mouth, albeit in a hushed whisper. My tears may have been brought to the surface by some returning chilly temperatures, but this early morning heater breakdown had broken me. It revealed to me how sometimes, despite my attempts to patiently wait things out, or to adjust my sails in some rocky waters, I'm not as steadfast as I wish I could be. Are any of us consistently steadfast? Of course not, and that's okay. Like that old heater, I’ve been trying so hard to keep going, to keep my gears oiled with the completion of the tasks necessary for warmth--the running of my household and my five classes, but in my fatigue, I’ve stripped away my own gears. The busyness of my life has served me, but at what cost? Have I prolonged repair? What is the fix for my own motor?
May Sarton once said, "My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life--all of it--flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point, I believe, one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating...and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know..we have to be willing...(to write)".
These words resonate with me. I've needed the distilling process that writing offers me and lately I've denied myself that. Perhaps I haven't wanted to admit how temporary and fragile all aspects of life can be. Perhaps I'm afraid others will read my writing and think me pessimistic or gloomy. Either way, I haven’t been accepting of myself...not fully. I need to stop waiting things out. I need to stop being so damn patient all the time. I need to be more forgiving of myself and I need to stop the constancy of distractions.
So here’s a new pledge. When I feel the air chill, I’m going to do more than don an extra layer of clothing. It may have taken the breakdown of a heater to restart my own motor, but in any case it's time to free myself for the sake of full capacity. This girl is moving on. This girl is still going to do what's necessary to keep the gears running, but in the midst of this, come what may, she’s going to start writing again.
Oh wait. She just did.