Sunday, September 30, 2012


          The other day, it finally happened: after years out of school, more years back at school, and what felt like eons waiting to get hired by a school, I got hired to join the family business.  I am now, officially, a working teacher, having had my first day of work yesterday.  To paraphrase the recently deceased Neal Armstrong, it was at once a tiny step and great leap; nothing so dramatic as a walk on the moon, in the grand scheme of things, and yet as profound a moment in my life as those first steps on the moon were in his.  A new landscape has been opened, a new world is mine to explore and discover.
           The journey to this point has been an… interesting one, in many ways, and yet every step (or in the moment, mis-step) has led me to exactly this point.  There are many in this world who tell you everything happens for a reason… many others who don’t buy the idea that we are being guided in our path.  I’m not sure where I fit in that debate; my answer will change depending on the day, the moment; sometimes it seems like there must be a plan, and yet at other times I wonder how there could be.  There are so many horrible, catastrophic things that happen in this world, big and small, that I almost hope it is random, for I don’t know if I want to be at the whim of some guiding force that at times has such a cruel, sadistic sense of humour.
            Regardless of how I got here (and really, does it matter how we got here?  We’re here, wherever here is, let’s make the best of it), I know that here, right here, is the perfect place for me to be.  I am about to embark on an amazing career path, one that I am excited about for a million reasons.  It is rewarding; it is challenging, exciting, important, difficult at times and effortless at others… many, many more things that I will continue to discover for the rest of my working life.  That, above all, is what I look forward to; the knowledge that I will be discovering new things day in and day out, for however long I stay in the classroom.  Teaching is many things, but it is never boring, never routine, for those who dare to challenge themselves, and never let it become boring or routine.  I grew up in a house with two great examples of that… well, actually, five great examples of that, as all of us are following in the footsteps of parents who love what they do, and are damn good at it, to boot.
                There were times over the last year and a half since I graduated that I wondered if this day would ever happen, if this career would ever get started.  Application after application ended with one of two responses, that in a way were one response; either total and complete silence, which is a sad reality of this saturated teaching market, with hundreds or thousands of applicants vying for every job, making it impractical to respond unless the news is good; or, on the rare occasion where I did get through the initial onslaught of applicants, I got the honour of hearing an actual, personal “no.”  It was maddening, frustrating, disappointing… then, eventually, it became disheartening.  I kept telling people that it was just a matter of time, that it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I stopped believing it.  I have a lot of good relationships with customers at Starbucks, people that I talk to every day, and have gotten to know pretty well; I began to curse those relationships, as each and every one asked, and asked, and asked, how the job hunt was going, if anything was happening.  The forced smile got more and more difficult, the fake cheer harder and harder to muster, as I told them what I knew deep down wasn’t true; that it would happen soon.  I forgot what may be the two most important words in the English language:  “I could.”
               I have come to realize the importance of these words over the last month or so.  I’m a supremely logical person, one who can see all sides of most arguments even if I don’t necessarily believe them, and am hard to shake off of a position once I arrive at one.  I looked at the numbers, looked at what I had to offer on paper, and came to the conclusion that I was going to be one of those who never got a shot.  Sometimes it’s who you know, sometimes it’s what you know… in a lot of places these days, you need to know someone to even get a chance to show what you know, and it seemed like the few people I knew were in the wrong place, or weren’t enough to give me a chance to show what I knew.  How do you stand out, in a cover letter and resume, from the 500, or 1000, or 10000, other people who have almost exactly the same qualifications that you do?  I couldn’t figure it out, and I almost stopped trying.  Would have, if my wife would have let me.  Fortunately, she didn’t.
               I had forgotten that I had possibilities, that I had choices I could make.  I could doesn’t have to mean I will… it just means that I have options, if I want them.  I could go to law school.  Maybe it doesn’t make sense for me, maybe I will choose not to… but I could.  I could volunteer in a number of schools, make more and better connections in Vancouver to get a job here.  I don’t think I want to work for the VSB, the district and the process here seem broken, to me… but I could.  I’m working in Chilliwack, and commuting from Kits.  I don’t think I want to do this for more than a little while… but I could.  I have options, and I see them now… really, I always did, I just couldn’t, or didn’t, see them.
                There are always options in life.  Hate your job?  There are lots of them out there, and people change them every day.  It might be hard, it might be scary… but you could do it.  Don’t like where you live?  There are lots of places in this world, and many of them are amazing… go check them out.  I hear people complain about the rain in Vancouver literally every single day it rains, which as we all know is many.  This an amazing city, one that has a million things going for it, one that I love… but it rains.  A lot.  If you can’t deal with that, there are lots of places that get less rain.  Winnipeg gets way more sun than we do… why not move there?
             I have a lot of things that I want to start doing again, now that I’m teaching; I want to ski, I want to golf, I want to coach… most importantly, I want to spend more time with my family.  Time off with Lisa, and waaaay more time with Lizzie, are two huge reasons why I chose this career.   Finally, I’m going to start to make time to write.  It’s something that I’ve been pretty good at all my life, and want to explore that some more.  Will I ever do more than putter with it, do it for the enjoyment of it?  Probably not.

But I could.

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