It’s Easter Sunday and I’m missing pastor Rich, who passed away two years ago, as I drive past St Andrews. Rich was about as close as I get to capital G God. I’m more of a small g god person, believing that faith is good and whoever you pray to is good, but also that “My God is better than your God” has killed more people over time than any other 7 words in history. I also believe people like Rich live forever in the people he influenced, myself included.
Sam (the dog) and I are heading to our church, the church of the agnostic pantheist, the greatest place we’ve found to connect with Buddha or Vishnu or Jesus or Allah or Jah, the SDC Reservoir.
Maybe it’s just me but there are places in the world where I just instantly feel better. The top of National in Bear Valley, Steamers Lane in Santa Cruz, Cha Cha Cha on Haight Street, Stinson Beach, these are places where my authentic self flourishes, where I am in balance, I’ve added the Rez to the list.
I learned how to ski the other day. Yeah, I know I actually learned in Junior High with Craig and Jill and Mark when we went up to Dodge Ridge on the Valley Sporting Goods bus in Modesto and they took me up chair 3 and said “See you at the bottom”. That was one type of learning, what I learned the other day was at Sugar Bowl from my comrade Packjack who I have followed for years down hundreds of runs watching his Zen-like way of connecting with the hill.
“The goal is not sliding but carving into the turns, stay low, keep your feet apart and let the outside ski push you into the turn. When you hit it right, there’s no better feeling.” He explained. Because I’m a lifelong learner, I spent two days trying, failing, trying again, failing again, trying again, and finally getting it. At least mostly getting it, because when you’ve done something one way for 40 years it can be tough to change.
At the SDC Sam and I park just past the bridge and walk up the path which leads to the Rez. Usually, we go right where a short hill leads to the rim of the waterway but this morning we’re going left where a gradual incline winds up through the wildflowers to my favorite view at the top of the hill. Going right seems right, going left seems somehow wrong. Again, change.
Wednesday I’m in my classroom for day two of hybrid learning. Day one was like the first day of school but in April and with students who I kinda knew but mostly by their names and little black rectangles which have been their avatars for the last year. I joke with students that it feels like when you read a novel then watch the movie thinking, “Oh, so, that’s what the characters look like.” I have one goal for the next two months: Listen.
Wednesdays have been the one day I have not dreaded in distance learning because mid-year our staff decided to spend them directly connecting with students. We Zoom into breakout rooms and spend however much time connecting on the level which does not happen during classes. We talk about jobs and goals and graduation plans and dogs and all the stuff that makes life life. Students miss this, I miss this.
By Friday the patterns are emerging, the Roomies are happy to be back and the Zoomies are, well, actually I have no idea about the Zoomies because they rarely talk and are easy to forget now that real students are in the building. I’m as tired as I’ve ever been even though classes are shorter and the pandemic golf season is almost over. The unknowns are still tough and now the old fights like OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Phone Disorder) are back but just like with the golf team, it’s great to interact with real students in real time in the real world.
Plus, I’m meeting Kate at the Sebastiani at 3:30 for a movie which is something I’ve desperately wanted to do for more than a year.
Appreciate, learn, listen, connect, a simple mantra for emerging from a complex time.