I seem to have charged full steam into 2009 and with good reason. I am so busy out of the gate with Sophomore Saturday with my Batch (running two Saturdays each in January and February), and the Freedom Festival with AKSIS (running the entirety of February). Not to mention two field trips and a batch party to organize in March! And yes, I still teach — I actually got pulled into an exciting integrated project with the sciences so I now work as a consultant too.
Is there no rest for the weary? Nights like these are the closest I can get. Last night was pretty good too — I got up to speed with season seven of 24 (my first season actually) and didn’t realize how much I missed — and needed! — these marathons. I can’t wait for LOST…
But tonight, I am feeling rather retrospect. When I was in high school, my best friend and I used to mark the New Year by looking back at the old one, warts and all. It was unimaginably called “The Year in Review” and though it died when he left for the States, the psychological need to take stock and reconcile past with present was never lost. Come to think of it, this exercise has made history very personal to me.
Though I haven’t written here yet about 2008, I have had taken stock. It was a year I rather consider in its entirety than think of in terms of isolated events. It was a year when I was ready to move out of my comfort zone yet was drawn back in because of forces beyond me. In the process of reconciling where I wanted to be with where I actually was, I pushed against old boundaries and discovered aspects of myself I’ve never seen before — or at least, not in the intensity I see now.
Taking on the role of Batch Adviser is probably the crux of all these changes and discoveries. The lessons I learned in working with parents and representing students informed the way I now handle AKSIS and my SS2 classes.
Among those I learned are the ideas of fairness, clarity, accountability, and responsibility. Ideas and notions I’ve affirmed in me include the importance of having vision, building consensus, and projecting confidence in others. I discovered that I could be a ruthless pragmatist — while that has unleashed a whole new level of efficiency from me, I realize that I can come on too strong especially in a culture where conflicts are massaged and egos are soothed. I don’t do that but I may have to — from a political, Machiavellian point of view.
My lessons are far from over. I am continuing to learn more about myself each day, and for this alone I am optimistic about 2009.
I was also defined by external circumstances in 2008. At one point, I was flat broke. Bad decisions viciously ate into my savings and so I had to curb my spending habits as I rebuilt my savings from the ground up. Thankfully, that led me to become more practical in all things and while teaching still won’t make me rich, I’m better now.
The latter part of the year also saw a shift in our household. Technically, I am the only wage owner now. While I am reassured that there is no pressure to be the breadwinner (yet), what are parents if not experts in reverse psychology? Of course they don’t mean it that way, but a part of me will always be the dutiful son. He just happens to clash with the dedicated teacher at times. I realize that choosing between my dreams and others’ hopes for me is a false choice. One can have it both ways, and finding exactly how is a major theme this 2009.
Indeed, it is never to late to look back. As Faulkner says, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”
Realizing where we’ve been allows us to chart the course of where we want to be — even if it isn’t clear, the bottomline is that we’re always moving forward. A life unplaced in history is not worth living; we all have the power to write our own story.
This fundamental insight into history is what keeps my passion for it burning. This view allows me to connect it to larger ideas such as citizenship and empowerment which influence my work. This is why I have to write this down, not so much for you but for me — that I will always remember as I run full steam ahead.