Saturday, July 26, 2014
Saturday Sayings: Long Obedience
It's likely that I've shared this quote before. With over 100 Saturday Sayings, it's getting increasingly harder to keep track of all these quotes. If indeed I've mentioned this one before, I think it's worth bringing up again. In fact, it's probably worth revisiting on a yearly basis. I was reminded of it recently when I read an excerpt from Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.
"My friend Jim who lives in San Francisco told me that maintenance workers continuously paint the Golden Gate Bridge. Workers paint as well as they can as far as they can every day, accepting any conditions that affect their progress such as the fog, which limits the number of hours in a day they can paint. When they are done painting in one area, they start on another. The crew never really finishes the job; they just continue."
My teaching career is the Golden Gate Bridge. Talk about a giant undertaking. I'm not sure what I would have thought twenty years ago if I had really understood what I was up against. What would I have done if instead of a ceremony and diploma, I'd been metaphorically plopped down in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and told, "Your classroom will be like this bridge. Here's your paintbrush. Now start painting." I would have probably said, "You're kidding me, right?" Even now after years of experience working on this career of mine, from where I currently stand I can hardly see to the other side and to what's awaiting me there. Admittedly at moments I can feel overwhelmed when I look up to catch a glimpse of how much I still have left to accomplish. It can be both intimidating and exciting at the same time. To complicate matters, the conditions that affect my progress are many, unpredictable, and often out of my control. In spite of the daily problems that impede progress, like the Golden Gate Bridge, this journey is a beautiful thing though, partly as a result of the determination it requires to pick up that brush day after day, knowing there's never a moment of completion. My Uncle Burt would call it, "Long obedience in the same direction."