The path

Rembrandt and Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Gaugin, possessed, I believe, powerful hearts, not powerful wills. They loved the range of materials they used. The work’s possibilities excited them; the field’s complexities fired their imaginations. The caring suggested the tasks; the tasks suggested the schedules. They learned their fields and then loved loved them. They worked, respectfully, out of their love and knowledge, and produced complex bodies of work that endured.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

After teaching for three decades, I believe this: the only thing that separates the good from the bad is caring — about your students, about your field. Not about the weight of your legacy, and definitely not about product (test scores, “outcomes,” sales). Why? You can’t measure what you love. You can’t even direct it. Love is the absence of measurement; who wants to see the receipt from a child’s gift? Go into a classroom with an outcome in mind, students will know there’s a plot afoot…and only those okay with becoming pawns will succeed.

The teachers I know who love what they do and who they work with are artists; all the rest, drones too afraid to find something else to do. Same thing for writers, and parents, bus drivers and painters: if there’s no love, there’s no art. Just activity accompanied by an agenda.

When life hits hard

When I feel stupid, lost, small:

The best thing for being sad… is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.

TH White, Once and Future King

Camus reads the world

So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother , really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.

The Stranger

So strange that American culture still regards Existential thinking as pessimistic. I see nothing but honesty and life, especially after letting go of all those things I’ve been taught to think.