Summer has brought new life for me. Since getting out in June I have helped create new flower beds, read through four, maybe five, new books, recreated our office space and gone to the movies. And already I dread August.
But, and that's a large size "but," I am concentrating on staying in the moment as much as I can. One of the great certainties I discovered this spring is that I must begin to retool for my eventual last day on the job. In fact, I realized that all of us must, sooner or later, retool for that first day of the rest of our lives.
I retired once in St. Louis. Mistake. Had we stuck it out, our life would have been drastically different from our life now. Better or worse? No doubt that cannot be determined. But every new experience is an opportunity for adventure. And I am definitely up for adventure. Which explains why retooling has now entered my vocabulary and mindset.
But retool to what? Here in our retirement community the ladies take water aerobics in early morning classes. They play bridge on Wednesdays and golf on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Anyone who knows me knows this is not my direction!
But my physical health requires certain limits. I can't hike the Pacific Crest Trail like I once wanted to do. I could finish several half-begun-and-better-off-never-finished novels. But I'll leave publishing to my students. (Derek Blasberg just published his first and it is marvelous!) The hiking I'll leave to Amy Compare who is religious about the natural world. (I wish she would discover Yosemite. She has no idea how beautiful mountains can be!) Former principals have become consultants, but if schools listened to me, there would be this radical shift in a paradigm so old and ingrained, it would be apocalyptic. Who's going to pay me for that advice?
So like everyone else who is faced with this conundrum, I must create my own map and direction. Just like life in the classroom, I have to get organized. I have to dig through "file cabinets" for old "lessons" and find new stimulus in them for me, the student. Probably the hardest teaching I will ever do now lies in front of me. The test is going to be a matter of life and death.