Thursday, June 25, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It's been one hell of a year. Many relationships have been built; some have been torn down; some have risen from the ashes like the phoenix only to inch back toward the fire. While these relationships with others have brought me an immense amount of joy and my fair share of pain, I know that the most important relationship I have is with myself. I am only accountable, at the end of it all, to me.
And it is for this reason that I leave, every so often, to cleanse myself, to gain some perspective on who I am and what I want.
All I want now is you.
Why can't I have you?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I’ll try to get through this without crying; I expect you to do the same.
When I sit and consider what your class means to me, many memories float to the surface: All of us laughing in class (sometimes you with me, mostly you at me); the papers you wrote; the presentations you gave. Those are all there. But more precious to me are those moments outside of class, those times when we spoke, person to person, still teacher and student, but the lines blurred so it was hard to tell who was teaching and who was learning. The best moments for me involved discovering who you are and sharing a bit of myself beyond the Mr. Dalley persona that I enact in the classroom. When we went to retreat, my favorite times were spent sitting on my porch in rocking chairs with you and talking together or lounging on a bench in the sun and babbling about who-knows-what or playing the guitar while sitting in a circle of rocks or playing Ninja by the campfire. Those moments for me are much more real than anything that can happen in the constructed classroom setting.
I tell you the truth when I say that you have taught me more than I could ever hope to teach you. You have made me believe that the students at Whitney are the best in the world—not for your test scores but for the people that you are, for the care that you have for others, for the love that I see put into practice. You continue, day to day, to amaze me.
Whitney is a special place, unlike any other school. But do not be sad to leave this place; rather, be happy for what you’ve had here. And most of all, be excited for where you are headed.
I look out on your faces and I feel many different emotions at once: love and fear, pride and anxiety. But most of all I feel envy: I am envious of you for the amazing worlds you are about to enter. Be open to all kinds of new experiences as you go out into those places. As Cat Stevens sang, “Oh baby, baby, it’s a wild world.” The most intense envy I feel, however, is for those worlds that will receive you. I wish we at Whitney could keep you a little bit longer. It’s selfish, but one year with you was not enough for me.
Now I know what you’re thinking: All of this emotional mush from Dalley? Dalley, the cynic? Dalley, the man who does not believe in a soul? Dalley, the man without a heart?
Well, good for you: you got me. I have a heart, and it is you who made me put down my guard. I can’t help myself.
I was sitting in my classroom a few weeks ago and wrote this poem while thinking how much I’ll miss you guys. It’s called “The Gardener.”:
The one lesson
I try to teach
To my students
That I hope
They always remember:
Love what you do
And life will be easier.
I would say
(And it may be),
But it’s also true.
This job of mine
Is never work.
I get paid
For the privilege
Boys and girls
Secure their roots
Into men and women,
That will reach
Out into the world.
I will miss you all
When you are gone.
But I will look for your leaves
Stretching toward the sun
On and on and on.
Thank you, class of 2009, for allowing me to grow along with you.
You are my soma, you are my center. Keep carrying the fire.
I will miss you.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Maybe that's how you feel
A second after I thought this, the song "Bittersweet Symphony," by The Verve, came on the radio. If you've ever heard the song, you know that the intro is strings playing a wistful harmony. If you haven't heard it, go listen to it before you read on so you can catch my mood.
I turned left onto my street, which has a bunch of old trees on each side which tower above the street, providing a sort of canopy; many of these trees are jacarandas (with the pretty purple flowers). The leaves of the trees nearly meet in the middle, but there is a strip of open sky available to anyone who wishes to look up. I looked up. As the singer began to sing, as I began the slow drive toward my house, I looked in between the trees to see a plane flying low (I live near the Long Beach Airport), going the opposite direction. We both kept moving toward each other until we converged, and I nearly came to a stop as I watched the bottom of the plane as it flew by me. It passed out of sight and I watched it descend in my rearview mirror until it disappeared.
I pulled into my driveway and sat for a minute, maybe two, and listened to the song. It was the perfect soundtrack to that particular moment in time.
I knew, as I sat there, that I couldn't stop time, that it would keep moving whether I wanted it to or not.
We all converge for a brief time until we pass by one another, and we watch each other recede in our rearview mirrors until we disappear.
Those few brief moments we've had have been sweet, and the flying by can be bitter, but only if we let it be. The people in my life are amazing, and in the most selfish sense, I want to freeze the frame, put it in an album, and hide it away so I can look at it when I get sad. But at the same time, I don't want anyone to stop at all. I want all these people I love to keep flying on to their next destinations so they can have new experiences in other places.
Yeah, it's a bittersweet symphony.
But I prefer the sweet, don't you?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I had another dream that I shaved my beard, but only partially this time.
It's one of those restless moments in which I feel that I want to fly (or at least walk, possibly run, around my neighborhood, pretty purples flowers and me). But I so sorely feel the ground and know that flying is impossible at the moment. There's so much to do here on earth in the next week.
I want to escape.
And I will soon enough.
The road waits for the rubber of my tires.
Here I come.