Thursday, March 17, 2011

Over and Over and...

Thoughts on the Road to Boston

There is a moment on those days when I run on a treadmill, where I start to lose it. As I “run” at a pace of 7 mph for exactly 60 minutes, I look down at the display and see, once again, that I have run 3.26 miles in 26:43. The monotony of the experience, combined with the feeling of déjà vu all over again (as Yogi Berra might say), and the knowledge that I will be there again (and again and again) is too much to take. Of course, I do take it and keep going for a mind numbing 33:17. I have a problem dealing with doing the same thing over and over again, as if I am stuck in my own version of “Groundhog’s Day”. Of course it’s not just running where I experience this.

I am towards the end of the year of mourning for my mom. As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to try and lead prayers (something that is supposed to benefit the deceased’s soul) at least once a day. I suspect that if I were to look at my watch each morning at 7:12, I’d probably find myself at the same place in the service each day. Despite the rabbinic exhortation to put yourself into your prayers, I fear that on most days I am doing the religious equivalent of running on a treadmill.

My father-in-law, before he retired, worked for IBM and Lockheed Martin in the same building for over 30 years. He drove the same route there and back each day. I would have gone crazy.

A mentor once compared teaching to being a hockey fan. He explained that when he went to a Ranger’s game (this was in the glorious days when they had not won the Stanley cup in over 50 years) the fans would boo the players on the ice, not just for losing that night, but because of all the years of futility. Of course, none of the players had been there over the long drought. He reminded me that when I felt frustrated in the classroom, I would often think of the offending student as if he had been the same one driving me crazy for years. He reminded me that there are no repeats in the classroom.

As much as I like, no, need variety, I recognize that there is something to be said for consistency. My mom worked at the same school for about two decades. Had she taught in different schools as I have during my years of teaching, would she have had so many friends who loved her so dearly?

Sometimes it is easy to stay in the same situation, even when it is not an enjoyable one. I frequently meet students who repeatedly make bad decisions that cast them in a negative light. I try and remind them that just because it is safe to stay in the same place, does not mean that it is good to remain in the same place. I say it as if I don’t do the same thing in my life.

Over and over and over and…..

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