When I teach students about literature and language, I often tell them that reading is like "Where's Waldo" with words. Literary analysis, rhetorical analysis, and image analysis consist of recognizing common patterns and noting where those patterns break down or break away from the expected.
In life as well, I notice patterns. Right now, I'm in what has become my winter pattern.
Each December, I feel the withdrawal begin. Like the landscape around me, I hunker down. I withdraw into books and responsibilities. When I'm not working or spending time with my husband, Eric, I read, drawing solace and sustenance from the words on page and eReader screen.
This withdrawal leads me away from the computer, too. As my online friends reach out for community, I slowly disappear. My interactions become fewer, with the exception of reporting basketball game information and linking to articles on social media.
In my teaching and my personal life, the end of December 's school break bring a brief Indian summer of energy. Then, I reach out to others, share what's going on, participate slightly in the online worlds I've slipped away from with the turning of the seasons.
But this thaw lasts only about a week or two into January. Between January and March, my hibernation becomes markedly intense. The demands on my time from school include grading, preparing for March test (our end of course writing exams), operating the scoreboard and clock for basketball games, and maintaining my personal life at home. I shuffle to work, stay late, feel my senses dull in the repetition.
I watch the beehives in our yard closely, looking for signs of spring while I let myself become wrapped up in the pattern of work, home, eat, sleep. This year, the bees survived the colder months. When February gave them the taste of warmth to come, the girls took full advantage. Emerging from their winter clusters, they sought and found early pollen. Two hives vigorously collected what they found on the warm days they enjoyed; the other less vigorous, but still collecting in anticipation of the onset of the nectar flow. They will need the pollen then for the hive to thrive and multiply as they work all summer to prepare for next winter.
I, too, have come to see my March as a time of collecting: memories of the students I teach now; dreams for the summer; ideas for the next year. But my emergence is slower than that of the bees. I tend to linger in the familiarity of winter patterns, to go through the motions for a while longer. The routine lulls me; I know the expectations and the routes.
That's why I decided to push myself into the Slice of Life Challenge this year--I want to emerge before Spring Break, to feel renewed and reconnect. I can feel the seasons changing, and though I want to linger in familiar patterns, I know I will feel better about my life and my work if I can break the pattern early this year.
And so, a day later than I expected, I'm writing my first Slice of Life post. Here's to 30 more.