Of Lexical Doubt

Destreaming conversations hover in my social media feed, on the lips of friends, and in the emails from colleagues. I’m pleased to see these conversations about equity, yet like many complex problems in education, it creates a summer tension in me.

This stalking presence of educating myself, of preparing for what may come propels me to continual thought, extensive reading, and intensive planning which can be a wonderful way to spend time, as well as an infinitely infuriating self imposed overload which then results in the recognition of overgrowth and the need to cull. My garden becomes the living metaphor of my summer education. But the ground is rich and so I till it every summer full of doubt about the end products.

Moments of the day are interspersed with reading and I experienced one of unusual joy this morning while reading Ross Gay’s essay, “But Maybe…” from The Book of Delights. I was between family tasks, taking every waking moment to attempt to fulfil my curated list of required reading for next year. Standing with the book cracked open, glancing down and slowly breathing in the words, I smiled truly embracing this window into the complexity of communication.

And then I read his essay “The Joy of Caring for Others” and my knees buckled in a moment of awe.

..she told me she was on her way to drop off some masks she’d made for her nephew, who’s about my age, at the jail.

“Here’s an extra,” she said, holding a mask out the window, where it dangled from her finger. It was pretty, kind of floral and quilt-y, and homemade as hell. I reached toward the mask, toward my friend, trying to keep away from her at the same time — both of us a little bit nervous, a little bit scared (I’ve never before noticed that “scared” and “sacred” are so close), making that by-now-familiar I-hope-we-are-not-infecting-each-other face.

Just that parenthetical aside had me reeling with such depth contained in this lexical observation. Sometimes these obtuse observations challenge the status quo and remind us that words are just inert symbolic representations of lived experiences. They don’t replace it. In fact, I thought about the language of “destreaming” which is metaphorical and the complexities of those conversations filled me with doubt. Not about the inherent benefits of destreaming, but about the meaning of it, of “expectations” and “equity” and of the necessary disruption that will ensue.

Glancing back over this, I notice the titles: “But, Maybe…The Joy of Caring for Others” and think that as I traverse these rocky waters of destreaming, maybe I can remember that the lexicon doesn’t matter as much as my joy in caring for others.

 

Published by Melanie White

I am an English and Media Studies teacher, and Department Head of Fine Arts at Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am concerned with equity and antiracist practices while recognizing that I am speaking from a position of privilege and continuing to learn.

8 thoughts on “Of Lexical Doubt

  1. Your post made me think at this early hour, coffee in hand. I love looking at words and their relationships to each other, but in conclusion it is about caring for others, isn’t it? Navigating these troubled waters with love is necessary but hard. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read your piece twice and also googled “destreaming” and I am curious to learn more.
    Your piece is rich and maybe should be divided into several pieces.
    One about that summer guilt and pleasure, of time to do professional reading/reflection/planning.
    Maybe one about your thoughts on destreaming.
    Maybe one on the mask story and thoughts on the joy of caring for others.
    Maybe one exploring your thoughts on scared/sacred!
    I’ll keep reading you to see what you write next 🙂

    Like

  3. Summer is when our many thoughts stream together and make us think in new ways. Thank you for sharing the quote from Ross Gay and the thoughts about words and caring for each other. In the end, the caring is the point.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Of course I had to pause when you named the book, and added it to my want list on the ‘zon. I noticed the publication date…which made me pause again when you shared the mask story. Prophetic? Random connection? A story that found you in a time of need? I’m glad that whatever the circumstance, you decided to share it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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