Graduation is on Saturday, and I am currently in my bed, nursing a voice that is lost somewhere in the folds of a stupid sickness that thought it would come for a visit. Dear illness germs, please go through the front door and down the driveway and flush yourselves right into the little pond that is on the other side of the cul-de-sac. And, while you’re there, please enjoy finding the deepest and darkest bellies of the fish who live there so that you might be digested.
Since my transfer to a different job has come through, I am reading, constantly. Right now, my favorite book that I am reading is a world history textbook. Yes, you have read that right. A world history textbook.
Over the last twelve years, I have been reading, almost voraciously, historical fiction. I love it. Twenty years ago, I would have hated it. But, now that I’m slightly more grown up…hey, it’s interesting. And, thanks to the novels that I have read, I am able to put together the events that I am reading in this textbook with a greater sense of how history is woven through tiny fibers that continually stretch out toward one another and are entangled and influenced by the merest vibration in some forgotten corner.
Several days ago, I was reading about the late Middle Ages and saw the precedent of Martin Luther. Yesterday, I was reading about the beginning of the Hapsburg dynasty and remembered the historical fictional autobiography of Marie Antoinette. Finally, history is making sense to me and I no longer feel like a raving idiot who knows little pieces and parts of a scattered jigsaw puzzle.
Am I am an expert?
No, I’m just not a raving idiot anymore. I’m still a bit of an idiot, but that might be because I am also very clumsy both physically and verbally (I really don’t know when to shut my mouth sometimes).
One thing I am gaining from this transition are some reinforced vertebrae that have helped me learn that keeping my head upright is not the same as looking down my nose.
The year has spun itself out. My classroom is pretty much packed and moved to my future classroom. My horizons are shifted as well as I move from one cardinal direction to another. As I travel the halls and find new patterns in the floor, I wonder if this will be the last major transition of my career. I plan on teaching for only 19 more years. I know that many of you are thinking that this is the length of another generation, that I could easily be teaching the children of my former students. Possibly.
But after being in teaching for 21 years, I wonder at how many more changes, like this, that I can expect. I am watching how the tests that were dictated by the state two decades ago are starting to unravel against the pressure of parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians. Change is happening; it is thrumming against me much like the pulsations of my heart or the waves lapping on to a distant shore.
As I turn the pages of this world history textbook and read about the Tudors, Columbus’s exploration of the Atlantic, or the conquests of the Ottoman Empire, I pull my fingers along the words, follow the travels, trials, and experiences of these people, if only for a few syllables.
I marvel at the lack of voices that I don’t hear. I marvel at the influx of voices that suddenly become more and more audible as I realize that this information is no longer a pile of nonsense with no relationship.