Blog is an appropriate word today (it reminds me of an awkward, spontaneous quip or a disgusting throat gesture). In the past, I've described this exercise as essay in a newer millenium, or one-sided discourse for the argumentatively inclined. But in untimely fashion, today at work, I was filled with a feeling, and have become fit for bursting.
Earlier in the semester, I sent up a prayer, which is rare for someone like me; not because I don't believe, but I take calling on powers not my own very seriously. I wanted assistance helping my students: to not be too shallow, or too impatient, too weak, or too distracted, too selfish, or too uncaring. I wanted to be there for them. Throughout the semester, I succeeded some, and failed some in these regards. Just now though, I was reading over some of the students' graduation speeches. I could hear the editor voice at the back of my mind: "that's three cliches in one sentence" and "something's wrong with this paragraph." Yet gracefully, I could also ignore it.
On the way to a wedding the other weekend, I discussed the nature of art with a friend. He outlined the components of craft and intent, and we batted semantics back and forth, arriving at no real conclusions. I've read work in the past weeks, some award-nominated, some endeavoring to be published, and others in between. These students' words were honest, but further, they were stuffed between emotions crammed around the letters and words like packing peanuts. They made me feel.
Objectively, I likely come off as pessimist. A lot of people in my life commend me for things they believe I should feel good about. And I haven't been an utter failure in things I attempt. But rarely do I feel pride. Pride as it relates to joy or happiness. I am proud of my students. Proud enough not to undervalue the leg of the journey they're on, and proud enough not to undermine them by pointing out something so crass as "it's only a high school diploma." I am proud enough to be happy.
I am humbled today by the greatness of relatively small things. A paper thin document can change a life; the words printed on it aren't overly rare, or expertly crafted, yet meaningful. And oh so very powerful. I feel like singing, or dancing, but I likely won't do much of either. Behind my eyes, I can feel wetness mixed with a masculine shame. I wonder if it would be patronizing to name these things miracles.