When To Take The Drawing Away

I've been writing a lot this last couple weeks but publishing very little on the blog (or anywhere else) because I'm torn between two competing instincts: to publish and to revise. It's difficult to know when something is ready to go, when it's finished. I have a piece about the power of leaving the classroom, the nature of real leadership, and the mistake of hierarchy, but I don't know that I've got all three things in the piece, that they all belong and are connected in some meaningful way. I liked the first draft but saw issues and have gone through four or five revisions, but wonder if it still requires significant restructuring and re-imagining. I wish it would just resolve into what I imagine it should be, but there is still work to be done.

On the other side are today's Morning Pages. Running my pen over three pages, I came up with something that felt good in the moment, but I worry it will require just as much revision as the leadership piece. There are only so many balls I can keep in the air. Here's what the Morning Pages sound like:

The most vivid of dreaming this morning began with a woman who could not wait to get me alone and naked. She was dream-familiar in that she probably combines eight to ten women I've known or seen on the screen. I'm trying to conjure her now in order to figure out who she is, but she is a figment, fleeting, insubstantial as smoke. Maybe I have no idea who she is and with every attempt to pin her to reality some part of me says, "she's not of this world. Let her go."

In a later dream I was saying goodbye to Danny Devito whose son I had helped somehow. I said, "I hope to come back someday." He stared sadly at me, not wanting to explain that this was a one-off. The woman appeared again, silent, withdrawn, and I was possessed of a need to make out of desire something like love because the chance wouldn't come again. But I also knew that chance had never come at all. I hugged her — around the legs of all things. She allowed it because even I knew it was an embrace rather than my usual desperate hanging on.

In the real world, something like my old school job was posted yesterday. This morning the school's website is down. Coincidence? I don't think so! (Actually, I'm sure it's coincidence but still enjoy that joke.) The posting describes only half of what I used to do. This is either management omitting crucial details and withholding information or it indicates a programming shift in which the two parts of my old job are split from one another. I suspect it's the former or else there would be a part-time job posted as well.

Whatever the case, some poor sap will walk into my old job like stepping on a rake, the wooden handle snapping up hard in her or his face. They'll see stars and it will leave a mark. Some admin will say "it's nothing, keep walking, there are a hundred more rakes in the yard. Good luck!" They'll give the sap a push forward, turn out the lights, and blamed that teacher for every bruise and beating they receive.

Here's what really bothers me about all this: I won't know; I'll be out of that loop. No one in management will notice I'm gone and those on the ground will be too busy to pine for me. Though I want to say it doesn't matter, I'm so troubled about being easily replaced that I want to see the place fall to pieces without me.

"Why are you still carrying her?" the elder monk asks me. I have no good answer. Anger, anxiety, and ego get in the way of enlightenment. I'm still back in the place I left in June, trying to change someone other than myself.

(There's a topic to discuss with my therapist today. Will I continue therapy after August when I have to change insurance plans? It will be a luxury I likely can't afford and I wonder if it's a better vehicle than this writing. Is it just a shield against making the same old mistakes?)

In the dream I was only close to the woman twice and each time something got in the way. First it was other people, then it was me. When Danny Devito asked how he should pay me for helping his son, I said, "call it tutoring. That's what I do." He shrugged and wrote the check.

Then I was with a guy trying to figure out our next move in a long-term plan to teach writing. I asked what our next event should be, but he refused to say even the first word.

That was this morning's pages. There are things that interest me, but it's a mess, just a draft. I'm torn between revising and losing the feel of the thing. It reminds me of a scene in Six Degrees Of Separation:

FLAN (VO): How easy it is for a painter to lose a painting. He can paint and paint – work on canvas for months and one day he loses it – just loses the structure – loses the sense of it – you lose the painting.

A BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT shines on FLAN who turns to see A TEACHER, in her forties, very pure and happy, hanging beautiful and brilliantly colored children's drawings in the air. FLAN'S VOICE echoes in this vast space

FLAN: Why are all your students geniuses in the second grade? Look at the first grade. Blotches of green and black. Look at third grade. Camouflage. But the second grade — your grade. Matisses everyone. You've made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into the second grade! What is your secret?

THE TEACHER: Secret? I don't have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them.

I have no idea when to take the drawings away, but I keep wanting to be Matisse.