It’s been a bit of a crazy time at school. It was nice having an early Spring Break back in March, but this April brought us a solid wall of classes.
The days have been passing pretty slowly, papers are piling up, and a kind of stress-filled monotony has taken over. I think all of us, students and teachers alike, will breathe a sigh of relief when that that calendar flips over to May which will bring finals week, graduation, and summer break.
I had been feeling that churning malaise when I walked into my Wednesday night class last week.
When my kids were little, I took on a night class so I could be with them during the day more. Over the years, I have enjoyed the older students that tend to take the night classes. However, I am trying a different schedule next semester, one that will allow me to leave in the afternoons.
The students are in the middle of writing their research papers, so we had an active class that night. They were helpful with each other, engaged in their work, and the time went by quickly. A few students lingered after class to ask me questions. I stayed, chatted with them about their lives, and we shared a laugh before we said goodbye at around 8:00. Night students are so different from day students and I will miss them next year. I watched them to their cars, moving as a group, then spreading out, separating, each back to his or her own individual life.
It was slightly cool as I walked out into the California evening. The campus was quiet, and there was a marine layer just settling over all the buildings, bathing everything in a misty hue. I walked down the sidewalk listening to the click of my heels on the sidewalk, past the lit classrooms full of students.
Turning the corner, I walked by the faculty office wing. Through the windows I could the see the hall lights shining on the heavy wooden doors. I smiled to see those familiar names on the doors, but also felt a twinge as I thought about some of the names that have disappeared over the years.
I hugged my folders tightly to my chest, and suddenly knew that all of those thoughts I had been having were wrong. All that desire to see time go by quickly was wrong.
Every single minute of life is precious.
My mind flashed back quickly to a Sunday night dinner with friends years ago. As we gathered our things to go home, a few of us started moaning and groaning at the thought of Monday morning coming and start of the work week. I then looked over at our friend Raul who had stopped working due to issues surrounding his brain cancer. I knew he would have given anything to get up the next morning, get in his car and drive to work.
What seems like monotony to one is heaven to another.
I am grateful for that insight I had on that foggy night. Sometimes it is in the semi-darkness that the truths in life shine out more brightly.
The next morning, I got up and got to campus even earlier than usual, feeling incredibly lucky to go back to my job, back to my students, back to that wonderful, stressful, life-affirming monotony.