Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blowin' and flowin' with the wind

Had this realization: Funny that I can schedule at least one key portion of my day according to's hour-by-hour weather ("detailed" tab gives you wind speed, thank you very much). Isn't there just something a little bit right about living by weather's guidance? Accommodating its vagaries, rather than superimposing our own?

This living according to how the wind blows brings me to: flow. Something sifting up in the relaxation of downtime, the absence of daily, deadline stress and pressure, about flow. That elusive state, where life events smoothly roll from one to another, easily, and well. When things feel like they should. The fully fledged thought here still brewing/percolating yet.

Today. Today was actionpacked, man. Alarm at 5, and it was real today, so up with me, grope for cat food for the gatos, grope for shower for me, out the door by 6:30 to volunteer at a teen writing conference. Figured it would be a combo of fun, entertaining, do-gooding, interacting with outside world (key to remember I'm not *actually* a cat), possibly inspiring, possibly networking-helpful, all that.

It wound up being that, and less, and more. There's something just fundamentally cool (to me) about a whole conference (2 days, no less) about kids and writing. In the first session where I was a "helper" (turns out, a very key function for me involved obtaining working dry-erase markers -- it's the little things), there were teachers who came in from Toronto. That also struck me as fundamentally cool.

(Side note to helpering: walkie-talkies are kind of a pain in the ass, tho useful, and headsets are really pretty hard to put on, keep on, and not suffer monumental ear aching from. Trust me.)

But it was the second session I helpered at, that second one that's still resonating. The first was for teachers, about using writing to think across curriculum, the presenter quite good. Second one had actual kids in it, titled: My Writing, My Voice: Writing Biography. There wound up being 8 kids, not the expected 20. Sophmores through seniors, only one boy. Various ethnicities and backgrounds. All fundamentally teenagers, combining smiley/giggliness, shyness/withdrawnness, dorky/coolness, each bringing her (and his) universe of experience. The presenter, director of a local nonprofit to help inner-city teen girls find their voices, larger than life in every way, black, with cool blue eyeshadow and braids, and a Presence, connected with these kids in a core way, in a way that only those who work with, like, and get kids, can. And the kids, their power and potential.... She led them through exercises that sparked discussion about reading, writing, themes and tactics that clicked for them. It all built into each kid writing their own opener of their biography. Every one amazing. Many began with death. Or loss. Or isolation. Some common teen themes, some decidedly not -- or we think should not be.

Here's the thing -- these were kids, just kids, great kids, kids we pass every day who we might make assumptions about, positive and negative, but kids who have already, in a decade and a half, lived through more hell than my three-and-a-half(ish) decades, through more than you'd want anyone to. And, they're not objects of pity or desperation or violence or fear. They're not even particularly rare. They're just kids. Great kids. Kids of every color and background, connecting, teaching, learning, sharing, being their resilient selves. It was something.

So, where does one go from there?
To the outside world, naturally, to motion and movement to process it all.

At 1:15, raindrops were beginning their splatter. The sky alternating from gravel to storm gray. It wasn't warm, folks. My twinging back suggested I head straight for the gatos and tea on the couch. It had me convinced. But then I thought ... really? maybe? I could try? I could go see? so, to the boathouse. And, another successful rowing mission without a backsnap.

And, I should pause to explain, while I'm often fixated on rowing, my current fixation involves this fine, fine balance between holding my back together; maximizing rowing while river still open, temps nonfreezing, water flat ... oh yeah, and there's this TINY matter of needing 500 miles on this boat to keep my rack space for next year (short case in supply & demand: more boats than racks, plus desire to encourage more avid rowers than boat dust-collectors, yields minimum mileage requirements to keep a rack space).

SO, this is fine & fair & good & certainly known. But, the year, it has this way of creeping.... I was just getting warmed up, really, struggling to fit rowing in amongst job, then summer travel hit, 2 crazy months later, I'm ALL ready to get down to serious mileage business, then it's *poof* Head of Charles season, with sudden daily team practice craziness, frenzy for water time, then that ends, really getting to serious crunch time, good thing I'm leaving my job and can row for 10 miles a day when ... ZAP, back outage. Two weeks later, I'm crawling my way back, seriously, starting at 2.5-mile rows [there is a giant frowny face here, tilt your head & squint & you'll see it].

What's that? What mileage am I actually AT? Well. Well, I'd rather not say. OK, OK onehundredsixtyeightIthinkmaybepointfive? Yes, working on it. Thinking on creative solutions (sort of the opposite of the Ferris Bueller solution?).

It's bedtime, y'all....

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