I Will Always Have Grading

But I won’t always have tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I have plenty of grading to do.  I have hours.  Seriously.  Hours.  And I’ve already done hours today.  At least six hours of grading on a Saturday which is supposed to be my day off.

Tomorrow, I am going to go hiking.  I don’t care about the hours of grading that is currently inhabiting the digital space that is floating around my world.  I don’t care about the zeros and ones and the integers of work that I am supposed to be dedicating to the world that is supposed to exist only Monday through Friday, ending around 2:30 in the afternoon but always, always, always stretching its fingerprints into my extra-curricular life that is supposed to be mine.

And I’m okay with the grading that needs to be done.  I could have worked on it last night but I was so tired that when I finally got an hour and a half to myself, all I wanted to do was play stupid computer games and relax in my recliner while watching/listening to silly television shows.  I could have worked on it after I came home from church this evening but, instead, I took the Girl to her sleepover.

And then I curled up in my favorite recliner and popped a bottle of hard-apple-cider and went happily relaxed as more silly television played itself out on my television screen.

Tomorrow, I should be doing work.  At least another six hours of grading  should be done tomorrow and those six hours will not even help me get to the end of what I need to do.

But I don’t care.

I’m taking my daughter hiking.

I’m going to push myself out into the world and go to the mountains and I’m going to put one foot in front of another and I’m going to walk up a mountain and stand on the top and stare at the world that is circling around me.

I’m going to stare at trees that are filtering the colors from their veins and deep into the trunks of the trees and I’m going to luxuriate in the burnt spectrum that is hanging within the canopy of the world.

In some respects, I feel guilty, a bit torn.  I could get so much work done tomorrow if I just went ahead and stayed home and did the work like I’m supposed to.

But, instead, I’m going to shrug off that sense of moral work-responsibility and I’m going to drive down long roads and into this world that has nothing to do with grade scales and end of course testing and state standards and the common core and all those other wonderful boundaries that circumscribe my existence.

I love my job.

Everyone knows that I love my job.

I love the hours I have spent with the Girl at field hockey games as I nourish her new-found interest.

I love the hours I have spent reading the words on pages that are digital and parchment.

I love the hours I have devoted to ensuring that my students are learning.  Even if it means that I have left those hours within a vacuum of missed opportunities.

But, after a while, I realized that I’m also forgetting all those lessons that I learned on the Appalachian Trail this summer, those hours spent walking and putting my feet on a path that was roughly two feet wide and filled with all the dreams and questions I had been nourishing but never speaking.

Tomorrow, I will retrace some of those steps and will stand on top of the world that I had seen and loved and wanted to see again.  And as opposed to saying that I’ll “do it next year,” I’m doing it now.

I missed a festival because of…grading?  because of other requirements that precluded me from finding the passion of my own existence.

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow I am going to wear my old hiking boots and we’re going to leave more prints in the dust.  And I’m going to write poetry.  And I’m going to look at my daughter who will possibly be furious with me because I have dragged her out on to a mountain when she could have been hanging out with her friends.

And I’m going to show her that sometimes, it’s okay to leave behind the world in order to find the world.

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