A therapist friend of mine once said that when her practice grew smaller, people leaving the work and moving on to other things or other therapies or other countries, she used to fret. She would worry not only about her now former clients but her livelihood. She would think of new and exciting ways to bring people into her practice, and she would alternative this thinking with the kind of thinking where she was out on the street destitute.
One day after a very long bout of "I will never eat again," she heard a voice or a message or a thought that said, "All the right ones will come to you. Don't worry about the details."
And at that moment, she stopped worrying about the people who absolutely needed to come right this very minute to her practice. She had faith that the people who needed her were the ones who did, in fact, call her the next day or week or month. And from that time onward, she ignored the vagaries of client flux, knowing that the people with her were the ones supposed to be there, the ones who were supposed to do the work.
I've thought of this experience of hers often when teaching. Sometimes, I'm smart enough to look out at the various students in my classes, those who entertained and those who taxed and those who didn't care either way, and thought of them as the exact, right ones for the class they were in. On Thursday, I had the chance to think about it again when my mostly non-native speaking class started to read the screenplay Juno.
Now, those of you who saw Juno might not think of it as full of hard-to-comprehend diction or complicated vocabulary In fact, the diction is so simple as to almost be written in shorthand. You might not think that the level of story was too deep for a freshman composition class to take in. Not at all. In fact, when I ordered it, I thought the issues were going to be very interesting to discuss as we were in an election where abortion and abortion rights were constantly in debate. Sarah Palin's daughter was suddenly pregnant, Sarah Palin herself had a child that many might not have, and Juno would bring up--in a lighthearted way--the very issues that were dogging our nation.
When I contemplated my freshman composition class, usually made up of young people between the ages of 18-22, I thought they would be able to relate to Juno and her sarcastic predicament, all of them just recently out of adolescence.
But this is not where we are going to be able to go with this screenplay. Not at all. These students do not know the laws of our country concerning abortion for one thing. Two, they don't know what Red Vine ropes are. They've never heard anyone whisper the term "Wizard" except, maybe, in a video game. They don't know how ugly a recliner could be, especially when it sits outside for a while. I had to show what a recliner can do, pulling on my imaginary recliner handle. A notched rag rug is also something unknown to the Eastern world, and I demonstrated the technique of making one with my hands.
So after about twenty minutes of discussion, I thought to myself, if there is an organizing intelligence in the world, what intelligence would have given over this particular group of students to a class where Americana and Shakespearean English was on tap for them? What force would bring them to this room where they would read Fight Club and Juno and Hamlet? Maybe no student deserves that, actually, when I look at the string of titles, but I have done more explaining about objects and places and things than I ever had before, and less and less about the actually business of writing.
I walked out of the room on Thursday, shaking my head, trying to catch onto the thread of feeling my therapist friend shared with me all those years ago. The right ones will come. The mission for them was for me to decode this bizarre culture they landed in. Maybe it wasn't about correct syntax at all. This is where they are supposed to be.
And for that matter, this is where I am supposed to be, too, if the logic of the magic holds true. I am supposed to be in front of that group, pantomiming reclining in front of a television in a stuffy house full of notched rugs eating a Red Vine rope and swigging down a huge bottle of Sunny Delight. I don't need to worry any more about it. As I sit here looking at the books I am just about to order for next semesters' classes, I am not going to contemplate who will read Take Me Out or The Seagull. I am not going to worry that the students will not understand the poetry in 180 More.
I am not going to worry about the details.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org