Slice #26: I am Not the Only One

“You must love the words, the ideas and images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.” 

— Wallace Stevens

Looking for today’s inspiration, I lose myself in poetry – the busyness of the day dissipates as I allow myself the luxury of lingering. Captivated, I ponder the subtle nuances of meaning each poem possesses to unravel and reflect on its message.

While lingering in, Vaclav Havel’s poem, “It is I Who Must Begin” many lines speak to me, but his words, “I am neither the only one/nor the first/nor the most important one/to have set out upon the road,” burrow into my thoughts.

Education is tough. Our days are spent facilitating learning, fostering mindsets, fielding questions, navigating emotions and attitudes, connecting, and reflecting on pedagogy. Our evenings are filled with creating lessons, reviewing student work, providing feedback, learning, and further reflection. Our mind – spins, our body – tires, yet we persevere with great passion. Why?

Poet, Naomi Shihab Nye states poetry serves as a “bridge, a conversation with the world.” Havel and I conversed about the power of beginning with “I,” but identifying when to shift to “we” as we set out on the road.

Our day begins with “I”. What learning outcomes am I aiming for? How will the lesson I designed best target these outcomes? How will I monitor student progress? How might I support students in their acquisition of knowledge and skills? How will I nurture an efficacious mindset? Have I shown I care? We see ourselves as a separate entity.

As the day progresses, the pronoun swiftly shifts to “you.” What understandings have you gained? What questions might you have, and how might you answer them? How might you apply your learning to new situations?  What strategies might you draw upon to help you solve that problem? How have you helped support others in our community? We see ourselves working in partnership with the students.

Another pronoun slips in during the day, “we.” How might we adjust the lesson to make the learning outcome clearer? How can we help this student gain more confidence? What support structures can we put in place to ensure success? How might we approach this task differently? We see ourselves as a community.

I may be tired, but I am not lost. I am not disheartened. I live in harmony with the community; I am not alone.

Thank you for the conversation Havel – wise words.

It Is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin,

Once I begin, once I try—

here and now,

right where I am,

not excusing myself

by saying that things

would be easier elsewhere,

without grand speeches and

ostentatious gestures,

but all the more persistently

—to live in harmony

with the “voice of Being,” as I

understand it within myself

—as soon as I begin that,

I suddenly discover,

to my surprise, that

I am neither the only one,

nor the first,

nor the most important one

to have set out upon the road.

Whether all is really lost

or not depends entirely on

whether or not I am lost.

— Vaclav Havel


Slice #23: Calm Promises of Tomorrow

Claude Monet

It is Born

Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.

~ Pablo Neruda

Moved by Pablo Neruda and setting of the sun, today I celebrate the calm promises of tomorrow and new beginnings.

Suspended amongst a kaleidoscopic

array of amber, pink and orange hues,

the sun, a crimson ball,

slowly sinks below the horizon,

taking with it,

all the worries

and franticness of the day.

A sigh escapes me.