I’m in class right now, writing with the students, trying to find something inspiring to say about hands, (our prompt from Sarah Kay’s beautiful spoken word poem) but I’ve been feeling too anxious, too stressed with the chaos of the start-up, or the chaos of what’s inside me, to consider saying anything interesting.
So, instead, I’ll breathe and wait. But, I will write anyway. And, this often works for me when I think of the white space as a place to sort out my own messiness or bring my emotions into some form of comprehension. And understanding reading comprehension has been a private pedagogical quest. Which, frankly, feels fraught, and futile and other “f” words that I won’t use here. I’ve been reading about the science, the art, the strategies, and trying to get a handle on it, to make sense of all this information when the paradox of it all strikes me. I’m not leaving space to linger, space to breathe with the difficulties.
I’d been listening to an episode of The Ezra Klein Show called, “The Subtle Art of Appreciating Difficult Beauty”. Chloe Cooper Jones explains that “all humans are engaged with a struggle between their internal and external self…there is always a disconnect.” She talks about a way of coping with pain, or the anticipation of pain, called “the neutral room”. It is a space in the mind intentionally created to carve out neutrality and it sounds a lot like a place to breathe.
My ten minute timer ends and I move to my desk to look back at my reading while students are working in groups. adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy sits open at a page. I’m reading the chapter “Fractals” and thinking of my elderly neighbour, an intensely positive Black man who makes fractal art, and wears tie-dyed fractal shirts. (Even his tricyle helmet is vibrant with colour and possibility.) He lost his lifelong partner to brain cancer last year and, still, he smiles and rides and connects with members of the community.
How we are at the small scale is how we are at the large scale. The patterns of the universe repeat at scale. (brown 52)
I think to myself, “There is so much that I’m not handling right now.” Maybe there is no handling. Maybe there is only finding the difficult beauty in these struggles and being comfortable with small movements of transformation.