Sunday, February 2, 2014

"My work"--inspired by A. Papatya Bucak's wonderful essay in Brevity,

 A. Papatya Bucak had an essay titled, "An Address to My Fellow Faculty Who Have Asked Me to Speak About My Work" in Brevity this month which I've re-read over a dozen times in the twelve days since it's been published.  I love how her essay addresses the issue of "work," a verb, rather than "employment" or "vocation" (both nouns.)  I loved it so much I decided to imitate it--as an exercise in understanding what I do and how it reflects the things I value.

My Work

My work is to spend nights cross-legged on my bed trying to write essays.  Essayer.  French.  To try.  My work is to try.

My work is to fill blank documents with words, to face the blinking cursor with bravery, to erase, start over and begin again.  My work is to believe in words and the space between them, to tell a story by the things I say and the things I choose not to say.

My work is to perch in the library loft with two sixth graders reading novels out loud.  My work is to answer their questions with questions.  To allot space to ponder.

My work is to teach by making mistakes, looking up answers, getting dirty, dusting off my pants and beginning again.

My work is wake every morning and stare at the mountains slack-jawed, to learn the names of pines and firs, to watch the moon change shape in the sky as the calender marches on.  

My work is to not allow the days to pass unmarked, to make each one distinct, to wake early to watch the sunrise and stay up late, lying in the snow and staring at the stars.

My work is to walk through the woods with students.

My work is to walk through the woods as a student.

My work is to usher spiders out of my classroom and watch them scuttle to safety instead of crushing them underfoot, to illuminate owl feathers under a light microscope, to read poems aloud and love each line.  My work is to cultivate curiosity.

My work is to pay attention to words, to love them enough to search for the right one, to say them out loud and listen to the cadence of each line.

My work is to write down the things kids say, to witness their prophetic moments, to make poems out of their observations.  My work is listen when Benjamin notices there's beautiful on the trees, to nod when Micah tells me I guess anything can be art, if you look at it right.  My work is to be slow enough not to let these moments slip by, to move at the speed of someone who still palms the window to watch the snow.

My work is to notice the snow changing shape.

My work is to sit in vespers every night and listen for answers--to want to name everything I know to be holy while realizing how impossible that is.   

My work is to burn the prairie so it can grow back stronger, to retread trails when the seasons shift, to sift soil, bury seeds, and label potted plants with Popsicle sticks: kale, cilantro, sugar snap peas.  My work is to notice the way their stems bend toward sun.

My work is to write down my dreams, to listen to voices older and younger than me, to tuck my legs into my stomach, sit on the porch swing, and reconsider my life, my plans, my beliefs, till all that's left is the blank slate of sky.

My work is to wake up in wonder. 

My work is my hope for the day.

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