My desk is a mess. My students are a mess. My plans for next week are a mess. It all looks like my backyard…springtime. The snow has melted and the rain has saturated everything, leaving behind the soft, spongy beginnings of new life. But it hasn’t emerged yet, this new life, and all that is there is mud, just like my classroom at 3pm on a Friday.
Spring is not a new or creative metaphor for life, and soggy, messy mud pits hold such promise for imagery…but I am not even approaching metaphorical contemplation. I am, literally, just trying to figure out how to 1) give (quality) feedback on all this student writing and 2) find the time to sift through the bins of past years’ material to find the Just Right poem for Monday morning.
But I’m not really doing either of those things, because I am writing. I am searching for direction and searching for the words and just searching in general. (Which I seem to do a lot, lately.) The problem is that I don’t know where to take my writing and I don’t know which words will fit together comfortably on the line…and I don’t know how to write about my Big Search because I don’t even really know what that is.
I met with a student today about his reading and he confessed to me that he had not been finishing anything that he read. This was a shock to me, as he is a voracious reader. He said he started a few different novels, but abandoned them all. Then he switched to non-fiction, but found himself just reading a few chapters here and there before moving on to another book altogether. He didn’t know why he was leaving this trail of rejected books in his wake, but he said he was looking for something and just wasn’t finding it. Aren’t we all? I told him that this was all okay, that this was all part of being an independent reader, and sent him to the library to browse some more. He did not return with a book, but only gave me a weak shrug when he walked back into the room empty handed. I returned his shrug, hoping that my mirroring gesture would convey that he was not alone on his quest.
In a few minutes, I’ll close up my room, knowing that the messes will get straightened out just as the grass will grow in my yard. My student will find his way back into a story and the mud pits will dry out. I have witnessed many, many springs and they each, predictably, bring renewal and hope. As I watch the days lengthen and feel the temperatures warm, I doubt I’ll end my Big Search, but I am hopeful that I will find a way to name it.