Happy little fish guy hanging from a tree in Spain- just outside of the Juan Miró museum. When James and I traveled to Mallorca, this moment at Miró’s studio was my best pause. For most of the trip, I did the thing I always do on trips, even when I try to be present. I rush, rush, rush until I feel dragged around and overwhelmed.
I am terrible at arriving. I feel an inch of discomfort and I want to run. This follows me everywhere- even on trips. It’s the run from discomfort, the pull to take something (ice cream, wine, ruffles) to make it stop. In my classroom, the run kept me moving, fast. Too fast to ever really arrive and be with my students. Too fast to allow for silent moments in a conference or conversation with students. Too fast to listen with an open heart. I talked, a lot. And I moved around the classroom like I was a waitress at brunch, just trying to get the orders to the tables, fast. I prized efficiency and accuracy. Comma goes here. Worksheet to you. Papers due on Friday. Hurry up everybody!
Years later, I asked one of my former students an important question.
During a documentary film unit, where students were required to make their own short documentaries, she had created this stunning documentary film about years she spent as a child in the foster care system. I was so curious about how she had arrived at this decision to do such a brave thing in school, to share something so vulnerable? She said it was the feeling of presence, the space around the invitation. I had arrived long enough to be with her as she decided. This was rare for me. My conversation with Katie, left me asking: How can we add more space to school days? How can we pause more? What will these pauses allow in students’ creative process? What kinds of projects will be born in our ability to be present? How can we help our students arrive too?
This is not magic. It is intention. Traveling or home, it is a decision to fully arrive. To say to ourselves, I will never be here again. I will not run away. I will not miss this- even if it feels hard.
Traveling has taught me how to arrive. This moment is home- wherever we are.