Zen, Meditation, Completion, and Closure
Yesterday, Dylan and I spent a couple of hours resanding the paver joints on our walk and patio. This is a thoughtful, repetitive process that is largely quiet. Turns out it is also meditative. The gentle strokes of the corn brooms against the sand and bricks, the synchronous rhythm of the two of us sweeping the sand gently into each gap, all contributed to a peaceful afternoon. It was quite a contrast to the day before when Bob and I were powerwashing the same patio and our driveway. There was no peace in that at all.
This makes me think about the end of year rituals for teachers and myself in particular. Truthfully, some years, I just clear off my desk, cover everything with sheets, and ostensibly leave it all behind. I never feel quite at peace with that. I always carry home my summer reading and a few files to linger over, but the weight of books, closets, drawers, and unfinished things weighs on me.
This year, I started thinking about the end of year when I was sitting in silence while the students were taking their MCAS assessments. I thought about the closet, and my desk drawers, the endless stacks of paper, and those three file cabinets.
As the end approached, I was busier that usual. A project came up that sent me to the classes for the last few days. Initially, it seemed like a tedious task, but again as I went to each class and interacted with the students, the teachers, our intervention staff, it was rewarding. It was fulfilling. It was gratifying.
But sadly, because of those tasks, on the last day of school, the literacy center and my work space still needed lots of work even to get to the usual quick close. So I resigned to come back to school the next day after most of my colleagues had gone on to begin their summer. Again, I drove over to school dreading the process. The further I got into the work, the bigger the task seemed, and the larger the piles.
On day two, my spirit turned. I decided to really examine the space, my work in it, and the things that were taking up real estate there. How could this space change? It’s funny. People would drop by with random comments and those comments would send me off deeper in the process. They would notice things that I didn’t see anymore and I saw them with their eyes.
Just like the moss in the cracks of our walk, I thought I liked what I saw until I removed it. I thought this was just a cleaning task. It took a while for me to see the meditation in the act.
There is only one file cabinet now and a much smaller desk. No plastic drawers, no room divider, no teetering collection of gerry-rigged shelves with a mishmash of books, and no stockpile of dry erase markers.
It is unclear whether my work space will stay this way or how it will continue to evolve, but it’s true that the act of cleaning and clearing is freeing. It gives us a chance to let go, to consider, and to open up. Perhaps that is the best start to the summer one can have.
Thank you to the Slice of Life Community and Two Writing Teachers for encouraging my writing. I have been slicing since March 2017. Read more about it or join the community here.