When I first retired from teaching in 2014 and moved to Monte Vista, I had the idea of becoming a substitute English teacher at the high school. When I looked into it, and imagined walking into another classroom, I shuddered. That wasn’t happening. The whole idea gave me chills. I wondered how I could be THAT done with something I’d loved for the bigger part of 35 years?
I recently read — and reviewed — a novel that another reviewer called a “coming of age” novel. That’s kind of an important “tag” for a book, so I gave it some thought and decided the book Blind Turn is not a coming of age novel, not really, though the teenage character DOES a lot of growing up. The “mom” character in the book “grows up” every bit as much as her daughter does. “Coming of age” normally refers to that turning point between immaturity and maturity, something that happens in the late teen years, but in real life we do it all the time at all different stages of our lives.
I’ve done a few of those just in the past 10 years. The life I left behind 7 years ago seems very unreal to me. I have tried to identify the moment when that life ended (it was before I moved here) and I can’t pinpoint a precise moment. It was just a long process of discovering that it didn’t fit me any more. It had become too difficult and the rewards too few. What’s more, I saw it.
Why cling to one life
till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
squandering a hundred lived
God has decreed life for you
and He will give
another and another and another”
Rumi, The Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, Vol 5, Persian Text
Or, in Goethe’s words: “Hold your powers together for something good, and let everything go that is for you without result and is not suited to you.”
But, I did end up spending a lot of time at the high school. It’s truly Bear’s favorite place to walk.