Courage (A Haibun)

Originally Posted 8/1/2017

Courage (A Haibun)

I am running, running, late and lost in fog, panicked, heart pounding, too late, too late. I run past door after door after door; none are right; piles of papers and books block my path and I start to slide on an avalanche of paper; I am out of place, out of time, out of breath.

Scene change: I stand in front of a classroom, I stammer, forget, my lecture, my point, my name. I hear laughter and realize students are pointing at me. I look down; I have also forgotten my clothes.

I sit straight up in bed, my heart pounding.

August 1 pops up on my calendar; two weeks until school starts, and I feel the annual anxiety of all the tasks I did not get completed over summer break, the writing, the prepping, the reading, the doing, and the resting. I look around at the piles yet to be sorted, papers unread, folders still in boxes left over from spring. So much I wanted to learn, experience, do, become. The summer illusion of time to be.

I feel the tension creeping up my shoulder blades and suck in air deeply.

Breathe in, slow your breath,
listen to your beating heart,
time marches forward.

So it goes, year after year. The same anxieties and nightmares, same students, classrooms, books, lectures, assignments, and committees, new faces and words but always the struggle between creativity and boredom, compassion and indignation, pushing and pulling, always too much and never enough, demands, deadlines, deadened hearts.

Your time will come still
in unforced rhythms of grace.
Land. Begin again.

When I clear my mailbox from the summer junk, absorb the "welcome backs" and "how was your summers" and "good to see yous!, sit side by side with faculty in planning meetings, with students in orientation retreats, look over eager smiles and nervous laughter, turn on my computer for the first time, and clean off my desk for the last time all semester, I remember why I am here. I do this for the one student with attentive eyes in the lecture I have breathed hundreds of times before, who asks me to explain once more a concept he can't quite grasp, whose writing makes me pause, who thanks me for believing in her, who stops by my office after class to debate a point, who has read what I write and responds to it, to me.

I write--and teach--to add my drop of knowledge to the universe, one thought at a time, one lecture, one student, one word, one heartbeat at a time.

I stand in front of the classroom and take a deep breath, trying to swallow the lump in my throat. Four-hundred eyes peer up at me. I take another breath and begin. Familiar muscle memory kicks in. This.

Courage for the day.
Watch the bees feast on yellow
flowers. There is time.

The important time is now. The important thought is what is in front of me today. Accept the moment and begin yet again. Let my heart beat the rhythm of time.

© Christine Salkin Davis, 2017


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