You can never just ‘go back to school’ if you are a teacher. First you must survive the agony of something called ‘in-service’; a series of meetings and events designed to so annoy you that you are giddy with joy when all you have to deal with is just students and instruction.
One of the things to be endured is a meeting of the local teachers’ association (a union by any other name) during which the doors are closed and commiserations are shared about how, once again, the teachers were shafted in the latest contract negotiations.
Due to the economy and the ill-advised comments of our governor, who said he gave every district enough to give every teacher a minimum of a $1500 raise (we got $300) the meeting was a little testier than normal. It was then, in the midst of the choruses of ‘we wuz robbed!’ I had an epiphany: I don’t care.
Not only do I not really care about the negotiations ( I took an $8,000 decrease just to go back to the classroom) I don’t care about much of anything, not any more, not if it calls for anger.
From childhood on I had been a crusader willing to fight for justice (usually mine) at the drop of a hat. I was proud at fighting the good fight against all the odds and I reveled in a good dust-up. Not any more.
In the last six to eight years I have fought two mighty battles, one in my professional life, which I lost. The other was in my personal life, and I might have won that one although I am not sure and I might never know for sure.
Those two fights had a kenotic effect on me; there is no more to give for crusades against all odds. I am NOT ‘burned out’ but my natural inclination to fight anybody anywhere in the name of what is ‘right’ is gone.
Perhaps I fought too many fights, literally and figuratively. Maybe I realized I wasn’t so sure what was ‘right’ anymore. Maybe I got older, wiser, or both. The ‘fight’ yesterday over a few dollars made me realize I have fought my last crusade.