Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Day in Santa Cruz


(Is this kid cute, or what?  Enzo smiling in Santa Cruz.)

I woke up this morning feeling a bit "antsy"... a lot antsy, really.  I get this feeling often enough, usually to a lesser degree, and it indicates some approaching change I will feel compelled to make.  The change is sometimes big (move to a new state) and sometimes small (find a new coffee shop to read at) depending on what it takes to satisfy the psychological itch.  Manifestations of this feeling vary and have included break ups, quitting a job, changing hair and/or beard, moving, and various other rockings of that great ship named Stability.  I wonder how it will manifest this time?  I've already shaved my face recently, will the sideburns go?  I have no intention or desire to break up my relationship.  Moving could work but not this year.  So, as far as the big ship-shakers there is a job and a pony tail that could get cut loose.  Maybe the need for change is not so great as all that this time.  Perhaps I can sate the antsyness by finding a new route to and from work or by painting my bicycle a bright color or learning something new.  Still, the job and the hair seemed on the line going into my day.

Greg had invited us to join him at his cousin's new cafe in Santa Cruz called the Windmill Cafe next to Twin Lakes Beach.  It's not difficult to convince me to go to Santa Cruz anyway but with the weather of a day like this and the inherent obligation of exposing my son to the magic of the world that only exists near that narrow band of our planet we call the shore, Tami and I decided to take Greg up on that invitation and head to the coast.  The cafe was excellent and Greg's cousin Mary was super sweet.  There are people that just exude goodness and she is one of those people.  Sitting in the sunshine with my friend, wife, son, Mexican hot chocolate, magical coastal air, and easy conversation, I forgot my antsyness of the morning.  Like all good Sunday's in Santa Cruz, our intended short visit turned into an all day event that, in this case, ended with dinner at an Italian restaurant on Soquel.  Enzo, I believe, had a good time in Santa Cruz.

After such a good day, driving home full of delicious artichoke ravioli goodness, I started to think about my antsyness from the morning.  By this point the Randy on a hammock in the back of my mind was considering and weighing the possibilities of a new career entirely, spiked hair, transferring to a downtown school, green hair, an administrator position, shaving off all of my hair, a new school district, and the hair of the guy that hosts "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network.  My mind eventually worked it's way to what I think is the bigger question; not how this desire for change would manifest, but why was I feeling this way in the first place.  What was my motivation?  Before what force of my psyche was my mind marching?

Was it out of the healthy motivation and powerfulness of life inspired by the approaching Spring? I am about to graduate after two years in a Master's program.  I am full of new confidence and knowledge.  I have been watching my effectiveness as a teacher and agent of positive change develop.  My aspirations to make a difference in my field have grown as well and there is arguably more that can be done at other school sites and in other capacities than in my current location and position.  Could this desire to do more drive me?

Was it out of fear that I wished to retreat?  I do sometimes have to fight those horrible worst-case-fathomable thoughts running through my mind.  I wonder if some of them have gotten to me.  They make the world seem like a giant wheel of torture and precariousness.  Am I beginning to fear threats to the balance of my life, holding on too tight as they say?  When scared of an enemy, real or imagined, running in any direction can feel the only substitute for hiding in a safe cave that doesn't exist.  Could this desire to be safe propel me?

Was it out of a healthy desire to keep life fresh and to avoid a rut?  I haven't had short hair in a couple of years.  I've been teaching similar students similar material with similar colleagues at this particular school four years and in this district for seven.  Could a desire to keep fresh pull me?

Was it my shaken confidence in the classroom last week?  I did, this last week, face a situation with a student where I felt helpless to make a positive difference.  For all of my experience and training, I simply felt like crap that I was having such a horrible time helping a particular student, a student who needs the attention and help more than so many others.  With a focus on equity, it was difficult to recognize and accept the limitations of my personal skill to overcome a circumstance I do not control.  It was worse recognizing that in my effort I was making matters worse.  Did this shake me, make me vulnerable where I want so much to succeed?  Undoubtedly, yes.  Could this realization of limits chase me?

I can't say for sure.  Do I want change out of strength or out of vulnerability?

Does it really matter?

I would like to know.  And then, I've always assumed goodness when I make dramatic changes and life has been an interesting adventure because of it.  I don't know if spending the day in Santa Cruz, acknowledging the antsyness,  or analyzing my thoughts on the drive home made the  difference, but by the time we got home I did not sense so much of the antsyness left in me.  When I saw myself in the mirror my hair looked just fine as it was.  I don't know what will happen with work but I didn't feel the need to start searching online for career options.  Maybe I just exercised the energy right out of my mind today.  Maybe it's still there and the Randy on the hammock in my mind became confident that, whatever the change coming is, all is well.  Maybe he decided to relax and let the winds of change massage his resting eye lids.  Maybe the only change he sought was a change in focus and perspective like one finds near that magical band of Earth where ocean and land come together.

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