I finally just finished a book that my mentor teacher gave me while I was student teaching. It took me about a year to finish it. It was a deeply philosophical and psychological novel that I enjoyed. Even though I enjoyed it, I avoided it for a while simply because it reminded me of teaching.
To make a long story short, the main character was a part of a psychological experiment gone wrong and his consciousness was going to shut off and he was going to die. But, he is told by the man who started this experiment, that he will live on in his subconscious.
And it sort of ends… open ended. You wonder if he even died. You wonder more about his lives, which seem to have ended so suddenly. And in a lot of ways, I suppose this is like real life. When things end, either seasons, or actual lives, they end with no red flags or “this is it” moments. Nothing is ever really concluded. So, I suppose it is one of the more realistic books I’ve ever read, even if it talks about mythical creatures and skulls that hold memories. (You had to be there…)
And since I got this book during student teaching, it is hard to not think about teaching as something that ended so abruptly. I still struggle to define what I hated so much about it. I was anxious, yet more energized than ever. The students infuriated me, but I would have taken a bullet for any of them. I called them my kids, even though they made me lose hope in humanity daily. My fellow teachers and principal encouraged me, but I also hid from them how much I struggled just to smile that entire year.
Teaching was like dying. It just ended and there were so many things left to do and there wasn’t going to be answers.
And that’s how this man’s life was. That’s what all of our lives are like.
And I think one could be really sad about this fact, that closure is a gift rarely given to us by life. But, at the same time, never having a day promised to you gives it a sense of urgency and worth.
For example, if you got to ride in a private jet for a day, you’d probably be ecstatic. But, if you owned a private jet, it could one day become common place to you and it’d just sit in a hanger untouched.
The fact that closure is almost never given—although a great source of sorrow– can also be a great source of value.
It’s like when you go to give away your old toys from childhood.
You haven’t played with them in a decade or more, but they all of a sudden become precious to you because that moment may be the last time you hold your favorite train or doll.
I once told a friend that what made humans so incredibly valuable is their infinite nature intertwined with their mortality. People are worth pouring into because they last—their souls go on forever. But, the time with them in the physical is short-lived and therefore, precious. I think that’s why people’s last words always seem to include wishing they had spent more time with certain people. People are invaluable in this way.
And the teacher inside me, like that man, died. And I still mourn for her. She didn’t make it and that really…. It just really sucks.
I mean, I don’t even know what else to say about it.
But, just like it says in the Lion King, we’ve got this Circle of Life thing going on and a new part of me has emerged and has a chance to live.
And I like her a lot more than the old me.
She has no idea what she is doing, but she knows who she is and that’s a lot better than knowing what you are doing and not knowing who you are.
I didn’t really get to say goodbye to my teacher self before she died.
But, she taught me something invaluable and in a lot of ways made me who I am now.
So, so-called “closure” and death and all that is always going to suck.
But, there is always something new coming up ahead.
The end of one thing isn’t the end of all things.
And some things, like you and me, only end in one way.
But, we live on through our thoughts, don’t we?