“It’s a miracle when one man, standing in his place, is able while remaining there to put himself in another man’s place, to send his imagination forth to establish a beachhead in another man’s spirit, and from that vantage point so to blend with the other’s landscape that what he sees and feels is authentic. … To experience this is to be rocked to one’s foundations.”
On life’s strange encounters with chance…and golf.
Indulge me. Follow along for just a minute. Think about all of the things that have happened in your life that have just fallen into place–life’s quiet serendipity–the universe’s tilts that steer you one way or another. It can be the sort of thing that brings a chuckle in a quiet moment. Or a weepy joy. Or a dazed feeling.
I think about the luck I had when I needed to change jobs and leave teaching. That one’s simple–I wanted a different job and they needed to fill a position and it worked out so well it turned into a new career. We can go deeper–a long-ago college friend whose young boy’s brain grew a tumor, the sort that is decidedly stubborn to remove without complications. I think of all the cellular decisions and revisions that multiplied into mass.
Hard to stare something like that down–a boy in a children’s hospital in dire straits–and then take these cosmic coincidences kindly. Easy to call the benevolent strokes of luck divine intervention. Not the darker ones.
Cleaning is cathartic, but how do you throw out a profession?
For eight years, I’ve kept a half dozen copy paper boxes shut in a closet in our basement. These boxes were full of file folders that were, in turn, filled end to end with paper, thousands and thousands of pages that were the sum total of my brief career as a high school English teacher.
Pop psychologists sometimes talk about the baggage we carry around with us as we go from place to place and point to point in our lives. It makes for a nice metaphor: this notion that we are often weighed down by reminders of our previous experiences, and that cumulatively, these experiences can inhibit our way to make any kind of progress.
The good news is that the yards of copy paper in my basement never impeded my ability to leave teaching and find other work–that turned out just fine. And yet, I’ve lived with them in a sort of hidden proximity ever since I left my classroom in 2007. I cannot remember why I felt compelled to save them.