Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beautiful Bitter-sweet life.

I am never shocked but always amazed at the bitter-sweet nature of life. In blog-land my work is fickle but my life is rich with so much I want to share and think useful to…but often time doesn’t permit, or more accurately, like most moms  I need to constantly prioritize. Thus, sadly there are always many things that must get the shaft in this process. However there are days like today that the culmination of so many things is unbearable and I must share.

In my physical life I am a high school English teacher who also advises our school’s Key Club. One of my close colleagues decided she wanted to start a charitable drive called the Pillow Pet Project and asked if I could help out and get my club members involved—I loved the idea and eagerly agreed. She came to speak to my students during our Wednesday afternoon meeting and explained the task and result: Sell school bracelets in order to raise money to purchase Pillow Pets for all of the children in our local hospital's cancer ward and a few days before Christmas she will take the toys to the unit along with entertainment from student performers.  She was inspired by a video of a young boy Jake McConahay and his zeal for the toys. She recommended we watch the video and because my day was wrought with its own set of nuisances I did not watch the video. Then today while I was teaching my first class she sent a student to my room to get my attention and from down the hall she revealed that in trying to show her students the video on the Smartboard she learned that the boy had passed away. She was devastated. I will admit, I could barely react. My class knew enough to be curious so I took the teachable moment and discussed a multitude of pertinent issues that serendipitously relate to the text I am about to teach (Nectar in  a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya) which also has an example of infanticide among other tragically real circumstances. My colleague was afraid that students involved would be discouraged by the news of the boy and not feel passionate about helping others, but I disagreed, I felt the kids would put in extra effort out of appreciation for their own lives and for those still living.

Some Thanksgiving beauty--headband made by me and later destroyed by baby.
The point in sharing this story is two-fold. For one, I send so much love and prayers to Jake's family. I am still processing how much my life has changed now that I am a mother and thank the universe daily for the beautiful and healthy child I have been blessed with. The other reason is because thematically speaking, with tragedy also comes profound realization of all that is beautiful. The last week has been rather challenging, I have had anxiety that has manifested itself in physical ways mostly because I have had to deal with overall abrasiveness from my child’s father. This upset mixed with the story of poor Jake actually inspires me to appreciate the good even more--sometimes because I need that to be able to handle a life with so much sadness implicit in it. This is a lesson I try to impart on my students and one Markandaya vividly portrays in her novel.  In the epigraph she writes: "Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve, And hope without an object cannot live." I would go as far as to say that a life without hope, or more accurately without the cognizance of beauty is not really a life at all.

For me I need to make beauty from suffering. I need to find ways to create karmic balance on my path. I am lucky that the universe often manifests it for me. Despite everything I wrote, today was ultimately better for me because it was not yesterday (which involved being grossly disrespected) and when I entered my classroom, not only were my books for this marking period delivered, but they were done so artfully. I was mesmerized and beamed from my love of random acts of awesomeness.

book art! 

Then later in the day, despite the upset of the Jake story and my lingering anxiety two students walked in the room and made my day with the following surprise. Some set up is necessary: These two students are very animated and funny in a post-modern ironic but also ridiculously goofy kind of way. These same two sophomores told me yesterday that they wanted to bring me an apple because that’s what one is supposed to give a teacher, I laughed and nodded them off. Today they walked into class and said “We couldn’t find any apples so we brought you oranges” and handed me these:

This shiz is bananas.  
Naturally I laughed and spent the rest of the day recounting these two unique incidents to mark this day as something special, particularly because all of the events of the day starkly reminded me that life is very sad but it is also unbearably beautiful too. If I ever leave this earth before my time, I want to acknowledge that I am blessed for my experiences, my mind and especially my daughter, and I hope to always find a way to make something beautiful in even the darkest of days.

beauty. and books. and boogies. 

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