Life in Proportion

So it is that another year has come to an end. As is our custom, we pause to reflect on what has happened and contemplate about what might come to be. And as we grow older, each of our years seems a little shorter. A matter of perception, right? Each year is a smaller portion of our overall lifespans, and though that time can be measured objectively, it does seem to pass more quickly. Consider an example from my time in teaching.

Imagine a giant classroom clock, lying face up. Let each year of my career represents the passage of an hour on that clock. The day my practice began, I climbed up on the minute hand as it started at twelve and began a sweep around the dial until it was back at the top, my first year complete. For all I knew, that’s what a teaching year would always feel like. By the time I had completed my second year, however, each of those two years represented half of my career. It felt as if I had started that second go-around by climbing onto the hand when it reached the six. Year Three? I climbed aboard at eight. Each year was a smaller and smaller portion of my total years, and perhaps that’s why, as I got to be a veteran, each teaching year seemed to last a little less than the one before. By the time I reached 2016, I was climbing on that minute hand at 58.30, and that last year was a nothing but a blur.

Now that I am no longer on the teaching clock, time seems much different to me. Of course, my lifetime clock is still running, thank goodness, and for the record, on my next birthday, I’ll start the next year with the minute hand just past fifty-nine. Yikes! Of course, that’s how we all agree to think of time. The revolution of the planet called a day. The orbit of the sun called a year. Each annum beginning on the first day of a month we call January. All measures that we have agreed upon to somehow makes sense of the abstraction we call time.

On this day, on the eve of another arbitrary change, in the third year of my untirement, I think less of how long a year is, a day is, and more about how special a moment is. It’s easy for us to moan and groan about the past twelve months, to label 2020 as nothing but a disaster of a year, but I know that there were remarkable moments in that period, as well. And I smile, knowing that as much as we all want to start fresh, we really won’t be starting with a clean slate on Friday. Rather, we’ll just move onto another moment, another division of the whole. All part of the flow.

Enjoy the holiday, my friends. Happy new fraction!

Categories Education, Teaching

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