Saturday, October 25, 2008

The next leap

Our year 12s graduated last night. As I watched them walk across the stage, it really hit me for the first time that I am leaving, too.

Endings are strange beasts. There is a sense in which your years of work are condensed into one small, rosy snapshot and the reality is lost amidst the tearful hugs and warm thank yous.

A number of parents hugged me last night, asked if they could take photos of me with their children, expressed regret that I was leaving, asked me if I would be coming back, thanked me for the relationship that I had developed with their son, daughter or children. It's all lovely, and gratifying, albeit a little weird at times, but it can also make it difficult to extricate yourself from the fuzzy feelings that arouse the doubts- am I doing the right thing? Will I find a community like this again? Will I teach kids like these again?

My Year 12 Literature class surprised me with a bound collection of the stories that they had written as part of their study. They had taken great care to make it look authentic, from the dedication, the blurb, the publication details, the formatting... it was a literature teacher's nirvana.

The epigrah they had chosen was a quote from Cyril Connolly: 'while thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living'.

So, perhaps leaving behind a trace like that should make it easier, not harder, to take the next leap.

This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.

-T.S. Eliot (Little Gidding, Four Quartets)