"the unexamined life is not worth living"I have been thinking a lot about my personal convictions as I have returned to teaching in the last few months and my oldest child is starting to form his own opinions on deep matters. Jupiter and I have had many discussions lately about injustices and the need for more deep social change (as health care reform goes forward without a public option, as free subway passes may be taken away from NYC students who use them to get to school, etc.)
My time in the classroom can feel very personally fulfilling on some days and like a bit of a paperwork grind on others. I have received a few very touching letters from former students who are changing the world as adults and it excites me to no end that they felt inspired by their experiences in my classroom. But, I have been thinking more and more about expanding my work beyond the classroom (don't worry mom and dad, I won't quit my job) to encompass all of the aspects of myself and to genuinely reach out to more people. I retreated from front line political activism many years ago because of personal disillusionment with yelling and screaming and accomplishing very little. I also felt that more work needed to be done to create and inhabit the alternative to inhumane capitalism, sounds petty bourgeois I'm sure, since the working class does not get to choose to not be subject to inhumane capitalism. I digress, the point is, I feel now more than ever that I must personally work to impact the lives of more oppressed people.
So my goal for the next decade of my life is to work directly to help more people. How this is going to happen and where it will happen remain to be seen. I have ideas of projects I would like to work on or join such as taking disadvantaged teenagers into the wilderness to find themselves, starting an eco-tourism NGO in the Dominican Republic or creating an educational, organic farm that employs people and teaches sustainability. I have to do something that incorporates my need to teach, my love of nature, my desire to farm and my hope for a better world.
Some of things that are currently inspiring me include reading the works of and about the lives of great women (Mary Oliver, Virginia Lee Burton, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Sanger). Realizing that there are so many paths to making the world a better place and that my path is unfolding--- feels exciting and a tad bit overwhelming at the same time.
Watch out world!