(things to do when you are feeling the Sunday Blues)
- Write prose poems
- Count the coyotes in the distance
- Draw the anchor from the seabed
- Take photos of plants in evening light
- Arrange the books on the shelf by color
- Practice writing with a fountain pen
- Make deep footprints in the sand
- Rewrite the often repeated words in earlier drafts
- Count the change in your pocket and buy coffee or chai
- Plant seeds in a hanging planter
- Look up at the night sky
- Make a small mound of owl bones in the clearing
A postcard sent from West Cork last summer sits on my desk. The months between have flown and El Niño hasn’t brought the rain we need, though the patterns indicate more storms ahead. Life like weather, change and surprise, ebb and flow, the waning/waxing moon. The desk is too cluttered again; student rosters and IEP reports for my son, various cards for different occasions, and a hollowed-out seal’s tooth I need to drill and thread onto a necklace. Two books wait to be sent in the mail, which can’t happen until at least tomorrow.
A week in Cambria working on equity in education brought me up against my own prejudices and practices, well-instilled and reinforced by an Irish Catholic childhood. I cried daily as we discussed and unpacked ideas and fishbowled topics, as we participated in uncomfortable exercises, as we played music late at night and talked of equity and school climate and bodhrán playing, and slowly eroded the barricades of history. Back in the classroom I found myself looking around and realizing my shortcomings were displayed all over the room. The week after the retreat I instituted change and brought a reawakened sense of the task ahead to my conversations with my students.
This is a messy life, a challenging life, a good life. There are writing projects under way, and stories to be published, and conversations to be had about the tough topics that we sometimes shear away from, yet they float out there like the hundreds of islands in Clew Bay on the West Coast of Ireland, always present, often ignored, but necessary. 2016: the Centenary of the Easter Rising. I had grand plans for a collection of stories based on that historical timeframe, but the messiness of life and the distractions of the daily grind took those plans and made flitters of them.
Onward. Ahead. Into the unclear future we plow. On the telephone pole outside the red-tailed hawk cries out, searching the neighbor’s land for prey. At night the frogs chorus long and loud, reawakened by the recent rains. In my own way, I too am reawakened. This sense of purpose, of making right past wrongs, of addressing the obstacles in the path ahead and inventing strategies to overcome those same challenges, is what ignites the engine and sets me on my way again.