Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Best Laid Plans

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Visions of summer...
One of my favorite poems to teach when I taught British Literature was by Robert Burns. While many are familiar with a line referring to mice and men, the poem speaks to the futile plans and preparations that can be made and then destroyed, without anything to show for it. This is an obvious point of contention with high school seniors, many of whom are making endless plans for the future: moves, colleges, loans, degrees, careers. Yet what should we tell them? "Make your plans, choose your route, but never forget it may all end up in ruin."

There have been a lot of recession stories over the past few years. I ended up just ahead of the curve it turns out, graduating from college and securing a position in my chosen career path before Lehman Brothers and the American economy fell. I still remember driving home after teaching, listening to NPR when the announcement came that the financial firm declared bankruptcy; I had no idea who they were or how significant that domino falling would be.

This week I found out that "ahead of the curve" doesn't mean as much as I want it to when the school district starts making cuts. Given that I recently moved I have no tenure, my name is bouncing on and off of pink slips, leaving Curtis and I to shrug our shoulders in our financial budgeting. All the lesson plans, summer classes, forms for various school items--for next year--all of the sudden seem to be momentarily quite audacious. How dare I assume that I'll have a classroom of my own next year? A school to commute to? A pay check?

I am a planner deep in my bones. While this week shocked me a bit, it is by no means the most rattling your-plans-aren't-going-to-work-like-you-thought situation I've found myself in this year. And perhaps that why I was able to shrug it off a bit more easily than I would have before. Life will proceed, and my plans for the future may or may not match up with reality in the end.

Summer is here, and the plans are made: classes, travel, friends near and far, books, trails, mountains. I am not so naive to think it will all work out as I have envisioned, but I think it's just as important to not fear the unexpected and unexplained. And I suppose that leaves me craving balance between what I expect and what is; here's to a summer of seeking it.

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