"One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often." -Erich Fromm
I'm done teaching now. Yesterday was my last day. I'm hoping to write a bunch about the experience in the coming days. I feel like I suddenly have so much time because I don't have anything to grade, any lessons to plan, any classes to teach, any classes to drive to, etc., etc. It's amazing!
Our theme of the week this past week was engagement. Engaging the world, ourselves, each other. Being fully and wholly and whole-heartedly engaged. We even practiced. We did role-playing of engaging other people. Like, we had restaurant scenarios where four friends were at a restaurant together.....so then, how do you engage your friends? How do you draw them out, talk to them? It's something they write about a lot in their journals, that they're unsure how to talk to other people. So, we brainstormed for ways to talk to other people.
One of the things I talk about a lot in my class is that if you engage the world, if you pay attention, if you try hard to see other people and see what's really happening in the world....you're going to be sad often. You're going to realize you're lonely. You're going to realize that a whole hell of a lot of suffering is happening. And that's going to be hard. I try to talk about this so that they'll be prepared for when it happens, so that it won't make them give up on the project of learning to engage the world.
Of course you'll also realize a whole bunch of beautiful, interesting, captivating kind of things. Like how fascinating and weird other people can be. How brave so many people are. How cool science is. How gorgeous clouds can be.
If I weren't such a melancholy-inclined person myself, I'd probably emphasize the gorgeous clouds and the cool science thing more, try to give inspirational speeches to convince my students to stop watching TV! Start looking around! And I do give them inspirational speeches. Which are full of me saying, "This is going to be hard and take everything you've got and you'll be really lonely. But it's worth it anyway!"
Actually, I laugh a whole lot in class, and yesterday--the last day of class--one of my students told me I was the funniest teacher she's ever had, and another student asked me if I smoke weed because I'm so happy and positive all the time. So maybe I feel more melancholy than I'm communicating to others. !
And that is all I have to say for now. But I'd really love to say some other stuff soon.