Since I first decided to be a teacher, my life has been one in which I continually asked myself what I was “supposed to” be doing. I always felt I should be helping others in some way. I wanted to be a special education teacher. I left teaching for a while, I stayed home through my children’s early years.
Once my youngest was in kindergarten, the time had come where I felt the tug to go back to teaching. I made myself more marketable by returning to school to get my Master’s Degree and soon found myself in the elementary classroom.
For me teaching was a vocation, not a job. The elementary school classroom was the place I was meant to be.
I knew when I retired that I would look for my new useful place. I would find what I was supposed to do. I talked to people and searched the internet for my first year of retirement, meanwhile catching up with housework and purging an accumulation of thirty years. Nothing I found seemed right. Then, within two weeks of each other, I found two perfect opportunities. I was hired to teach a couple college courses to future teachers and I began volunteering with adult English language learners. I had found my meaning in life again. I surprised myself by publishing the book I felt I was supposed to write.
Five years flew by. I felt fulfilled
Then COVID-19 descended upon us. I’ve enjoyed the many interesting things I’ve done over the last six months. Exercise and a long walk were part of each day, but beyond that I had no plans but was always busy doing something I enjoyed. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, I became aware of the sameness of my days. I became restless.
Today, in the book The Power of Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less, I read, “We find meaning only when we enter this life, this moment – this gray.” The author, Terry Hershey, reminded me that I have to enter “attentively the depths of the present moment.” That means more than waking up and doing whatever strikes me at the moment. Also, he challenged me to look for the gray in my life, I realize that for me, at this moment, the gray is in the sameness.
It’s hard to believe but, I think, I need a little black and white. Tomorrow is Thursday. A new month begins. Instead of waking up thinking I will do whatever I want at any moment, just like I did yesterday, and the day before, and the week before, and the month before, I need something specific planned for at least some days.
I also know myself well enough that I know some of those black and white days need to be filled with “supposed to” activities that fulfil my need to have a mission. I can’t continue waiting for the pandemic to end to determine my next mission. I prepared to go back to education after a hiatus of fifteen years by returning to college. I geared up to write my book by going out of my comfort zone in reaching out to acquaintances and strangers.
Whether I decide to pick up the pieces of plans torn apart in March or choose a new path, I will need to lay the foundation for moving forward in a virtual world.
So now, just like I did when I retired in 2014, I will clean closets and purge an accumulation of thirty-five years and wait for my “supposed to” thoughts to fall into my lap or, maybe this time, I’ll reach out and grab one. Wish me luck.
“Gray day. Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today.” Dr. Seuss