About ten years ago, when I first started teaching, I had a coffee cup with the words, "I Love the Word Impossible!" At the time, I thought the sentiment totally fit where I was in that there was nothing that would be impossible to accomplish. I was very idealistic, as all new teachers are, but that first year my dream of reaching and teaching all students was perhaps, not impossible, but pretty darn challenging. It was a year of extremes; I had several of the most gifted and brightest stars, and at least as many who could care less, and appeared to be in school with the sole intention of driving the teacher to the brink of insanity. Most days that year, I cried, (mostly after the students had left for the day!) desperately feeling impotent frustration. My many years of motherhood, work as a staff assistant in various buildings, and student teaching in a 5th grade classroom, had not truly prepared me for managing a classroom of 2nd graders with multiple behavior issues. Fortunately, I had immense support and we all survived what I often think of as the "impossible year".
This spring, I received an email from Greg, one of those second graders, (who I also had the pleasure of having as a 5th grader later on) asking if he could complete his work hours with me for his senior project. Having him join our classroom, talking with him about the students he worked with, and about his learning memories, was a sweet reward for having experienced that year, and a reminder of the possibilities imbedded in each child, and in the relationships we foster with them.
Today I'm thinking about "possibilities" in a very personal way, particularly in regards to what I'm now calling my "summer of recovery". I've been out of the hospital for two weeks, and I've been swept up into a roller coaster of emotions, pain, and "impotent frustration" very similar to that first year of teaching. I have cried, every day, since surgery. I've cried from pain, from frustration trying to walk, and the very real fear that my knee won't be better, and because my husband couldn't read my mind about what I wanted to eat. I went through several days where I whined about getting the surgery, wasting my summer, garbage on TV, and the impossibility of finding a comfortable position, whether sitting, lying down, or attempting to sleep. I've spent hours questioning whether I will ever recover, and being convinced that I won't. I'm feeling stuck on a perpetual roller coaster.
Let me just say, I'm not real fond of roller coasters. I really don't like being scared. It took my family four days at Disneyland to talk me into going on the roller coaster in California Adventures, and, when we got off I was the first to walk right back into the line to go again. I still don't like roller coasters, but I do like the feeling of success when I've taken a fear and semi-conquered it. (That was about nine years ago . . . I'm not in any hurry to go again. :)
The roller coaster I'm on this summer is excruciatingly slow when chugging up to the top of the hill. These are the periods where I am forcing myself to do the physical therapy routine, dragging myself through days that feel like they're 48 hours long. Then, when I least expect it, I reach the peak, and whoosh! I have a moment where I stand and it doesn't hurt, or I walk and almost look normal, or I wake up from four hours of sleep, and I think YES! But, it doesn't last, and I'm right back in that slow chug to the top, wincing as I push the pedels on the bike, tears streaming as I swear I feel my skin tearing when pulling my foot back towards my rear. Yet, with all this said, I dream of the possibilities. It's more than a dream. I believe in the possibilities. Don't ask me why, because I don't really know!
Yesterday there were long segments of time where I was literally pain free, truly the first time since I had surgery and was loaded up with mega doses of drugs. I found myself able to sit at the table and work on transcribing some letters from my great grandfather to my great grandmother, written in 1899-1900. I've had these letters for 23 years, and have never found the time to start the project until now. There is a very real possibility that they may become a book, and I'm exhilarated by that hopeful possibility. As I transcribe, I'm handing them off to my dad to read, and he is enjoying the chance to read the words his beloved grandpa wrote, over a hundred years ago.
I'm also writing again, daily, and I thank this crazy roller coaster "summer of recovery" for that. IF I hadn't been forced to slow down (to a dead stop!) I wouldn't have spent this summer writing. I would have filled it to overflowing with stuff, running around, starting projects, and rarely relaxing, as I typically spend my summers.
This summer I have been given the gift of "possibilities" that far exceed what I would do left to my own devices. This will likely be the longest summer in memory, and I look forward to new discoveries of what is possible.