Boy, it’s been a while. As usual with projects I start, this fell to the wayside for a while. But I’ve been feeling the need for a good therapeutic write lately. I just re-read through the other posts on this site and it made me realize something. The way I feel now is not new. I have felt this way before, and I will feel this way again.

I feel a bit like Pagliacci. I try my hardest to make school a place of hope, of opportunities, of growth, of happiness for my students. I’ve written before about students’ struggles and my inability to comprehend how they continue to exist in spite of those. I had a brief conversation with a student today about how they hated their father. “He’s a jerk. He’s mean to my mom. He’s mean to my siblings. I don’t talk to him.” I’ve had my own issues with my dad and our relationship is far from perfect, but I don’t hate him. I can’t imagine living like that. I can’t imagine trying to focus on education when someone I’m supposed to love unconditionally, and who is supposed to love me and my family unconditionally, treats us so poorly. And that’s just one student. Multiply that by the 30 or so students I interact with regularly, and the 100 some at our school and it feels utterly hopeless.

Life is harsh and cruel. I do feel alone in a threatening world. But I try not to reveal that to my students. At least, not in a way that makes them feel hopeless as I do. (I don’t think it’s valuable or advisable to lie to students about our personal beliefs as teachers.) I try to help them develop a feeling that they can be agents of change, even as I go home at night and feel that I’m not making a difference, that I can’t make a difference. Who does the great clown Pagliacci see when he can’t laugh?

I think I need to make some changes in my life. I’m not sure what yet. But I have a nagging feeling that 30, 40, 50 years from now I will look back at this time in my life and say “What might have been?” If what I’m doing right now isn’t helping, then I should try something different. Maybe I’ll head west. The mountains have always rejuvenated me.

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