Sometimes we have to be the fool

CamelliaThis is a good time of year for chocolate, because the house is so warm it’s already soft before I put it into my mouth.

Kimchi ferments really fast at this time of year, too.

The jasmine at the mailbox is blooming and the kitchen garden is planted with okra and tomatoes, and I have a new red rose on my front porch.

It is the beginning of summer in these parts, and I should feel that sudden release of tension that accompanies the end of classes. On the last day I taught, I paused in the doorway and looked back at the empty room before I switched off the lights. And I thought, I will never teach again. I was happy with that thought, because it is true and because teaching is not good for me. It was a constant storm cloud on my horizon even on sunny days, no matter how I twisted and turned to escape the sight of it.

I taught for two years, as an assistant for the first and then my own class the second. I got good feedback from the kids. Several told me my class was their favorite, ever. But I’m glad it’s over.

So why don’t I feel free? Instead, an amorphous concern threads through every moment. I can’t concentrate on reading or TV. I’m tired by the middle of the day. My excitement for any given activity lasts only a moment before my brain switches to its “Eh, what’s the point?” mode.

I wonder if I’m still suffering the lingering effects of a moderate depressive episode that began last month. Or if this is a singular emotional event brought on by the fact that not teaching anymore, to me, indicates I am at the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one.

This last year I have worked hard for this moment, when I would essentially extricate myself from academia and begin supporting myself through freelance editing. For many years previous to this last, I was unhappy and fighting for some kind of understanding of myself and what would give me peace. All this required painful realizations about my limitations and the limitations of what the word could offer me.

I think I’m petrified. I am stepping off the ledge, eyes on the obscured horizon, flower in my hand.


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