Sunday, January 13, 2008

The View from Here

This is the view outside my window. It's beautiful any day of the year, but today it is particularly pretty, I think. The cold is returning to Vermont after a week of March-like weather, and anyone skiing today will have to wear more than a t-shirt. The forecast calls for 6-12 inches of snow tonight, but you wouldn't know that right now, as clear as things are. That's Mount Monadnock in the distance, the most-hiked mountain in the world. In between is the Connecticut River Valley, full of fog.

I've been trying to figure out, recently, whether or not I should trade this view for a different one, and I've gone back and forth again and again. The truth is, I love teaching at Putney. The kids are marvelous, I get to do whatever I want (as long as my students are learning) in the classroom, and my new boss is inspiring. As recently as yesterday, I found myself thinking: "I could do another year here."

But then I went out for a bike ride (the first of the year, beating last year's early mark by 19 days, I believe). It was warm, in the high 30s, low 40s, and I only needed to wear two pairs of shorts and leg warmers. I did one of my favorite 25 mile loops, with some rolling hills and one big climb (908 feet gained in 1.56 miles). While I was out, I realized that I've been thinking about Putney in terms of doing time. The phrase "I could do another year" is a term usually utilized in another kind of compulsory educational system. Staying here at school would mean stability for another year, financial and career-wise, but I think I would mortgage some of my soul for that stability. I've written, elsewhere, about why Cyclocross is so important to me, so much fun. People who don't do it don't understand, because mostly they hear about how much it hurts, how it "Sucks the most." But Cyclocross is not unlike cooking in a professional kitchen. You know the course, and what's most likely going to happen, so you set up as best you can for that familiar situation. But then the orders start pouring in, the gun goes off, and you do the best you can. During a 'Cross race, you're never thinking much farther down the road than the next few feet of track. You have to pay attention. Same thing in the kitchen. Sure, you have to plan ahead, keep track of the orders lining up in front of you, work with the others at the different stations, but most of your focus is on what you're doing right then. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time, with the possibility of injury or success constantly present.

I like situations like that, in which you must do for yourself or fall behind. Teaching's the same, too. You have to respond to your students, stay flexible and excited and energetic. If I were to stay at Putney, I think, I would lose some of that excitement, that sense of keeping the flaming balls aloft. So here's what I'm thinking. Trading that view for this one. Extra points if you can figure out where it is:



oohh... I know, I know.... pick me, pick me ;).

JRM said...

Just Do it! (then I'll have a place to crash if I'd ever like to train at altitude!) :)