Never not Learning

“When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.”

– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

Lately, I have heard the phrase “never not learning”. First, as a reminder in a weekly email from Yoga With Adriene. Again, it was reiterated in a Zoom meeting I listened to about education and best instructional practices. And yet a third time in conversation with my daughter.

These words reflect a common truth: now is a learning season for most of us. This season demands space. 

A space that recognizes utter gratitude for my family and our health, the ever present fear of the unknown, sorrow for those facing the horrors of this virus, heartfelt pride for our profession, and the dedication I’ve seen from teachers and students alike. 

This space demands attention. 

It demands I remain open, humble, and curious. It demands that I let go of all of those “musts” that I unconsciously lived by prior to now. It demands that I curtail my frustration at all of that I can’t control. It demands I reassess those “musts” I wrongly assumed would never change.

 A few examples:

We must go to school. 

We must participate in sports. 

We must stay busy. 

We must wake up early.

We must go to bed at a certain time.

We must cook meals. 

We must do house chores.

We must pay bills.

We must be kind. 

We must be grateful.

We must read.

We must write. 

We must be happy. 

In the space of this demanding new reality, these musts have changed. Through the lens of learning, they change to the following:

We get to go to school, and when we can’t, we miss school. 

We could participate in sports or not.

We could stay busy or not.

We could wake up early or sleep late.

We could stay up late or go to bed early.

We could cook meals together or eat alone.

We could clean our home or embrace the mess.

We get to pay our bills because we have new gratitude for water, air, light, heat, technology, TV.

We can feel everything.

We can cry.

We can laugh.

We can dream.

We can read.

We can write. 

We can choose to be happy or unhappy.

We can learn and we can lead.

Without so many “musts” I find I am left with a choice. Within each choice is a decision I make.  I am the only one who gets to choose, and I recognize my ability to change my choice. And the choice itself is never right or wrong. It is the choice of the present moment, or the choice of fear. 

Because when I look at what I’ve lost and I wonder what will come, both of these spaces are bittersweet or laced with uncertainty. These decisions fill the time. They provide me with glimmers of learning opportunities which prepare me and prepare us for the next season. 

To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

  • Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

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