Saturday, September 29, 2007

Changing my habits

The grand experiment begins.
Through a variety of circumstances my job has changed. After working an entire career in one school district, I have switched to a school in the district where I live. Not a huge change but, as I found out in the process, one that forces the job hunter to take a look at personal/professional values. Go figure. Its a personal chance to examine a life, looking for hints of grace and then to see how that works out for a change.
So, what'd I pick?
Turned down lots more money but a two-hour commute.
Turned down a little more money working with the best and brightest in a teeny tiny school.
Chose a scosh more money to teach in the school nearby. I can walk to school!
The walking to school part has been more attractive than first imagined, and everyday my daily commute reinforces that I have made the right decision. Here's what I love about the walk:
I've seen the neighborhood I've lived in for 22 years in a new light. The elderly man who has puttered in his yard as I whizzed by in my car - or even whizzed by on a jog - is now someone I know. We've talked several times and he is anxious to share details of his past life and career with me. I have the time to listen.
I pay more attention to the weather reports. I dress accordingly and have to plan ahead. Cool mornings followed by steaming afternoons. I'm not naive. I keep imagining this walk in the howling winds I know whip through my streets in winter, but I'm determined to stick with this plan because the chance to get back in touch with the out of doors and its variety is part of the plan.
Biggest surprise: I feel five again. I used to walk to school a long, long time ago. I have memories wrapped around that daily route that chart a full seven years of growing up. And here I am again, on the downslope of a life that has always included school, getting the chance to walk a familiar route in all kinds of weather, through all kinds of growing, and thinking all kinds of new, slower thoughts.
Just yesterday, as I trod around the nuts the chestnut tree has spread all over the street, I reflexively started kicking a buckeye in front of me, as if the past 40 years were wiped away in a moment.