Monday, January 15, 2007

I Resolve Not to be Defeated

We're behind. Way behind. As we return to ordinary time and begin a second semester of school, I am discovering the full effect of the time lost trying to sell our house. From the first showings to the packing all the way to the unpacking, we lost a good three months of serious, dedicated, first-priority school...and it shows. It shows in the lesson numbers. It shows in skills, lost or rusty. It shows in the September-like frustrations of getting back into gear and following a schedule. It shows.

Last week I was feeling rather down about this situation and decided to go for a run--something else that had been put on the back burner while we tried to find a new home for our family.

The warm weather seemed to call me outside and as I tied my sneakers I thought about my usual route--too long neglected-- with joyful anticipation. The familiar trees and landmarks, the houses, the gardens, the smells of cooking, of chimneys, of flowers and leaves all comfort me. They seem to greet me as I approach and wave as I pass. But even as I headed out the driveway I felt a certain tension in my chest.

What's that? Ahh...push on. It will pass.

But before I even reached my first landmark, the tension turned to ache. I held my breath and pushed on with muscle. I even got a certain rhythm going and imagined my arms were the steel arms of a train forcing the wheels forward.

I am a machine. I am unstoppable.

When I was compelled to breathe again, however, I felt immanently stoppable. I found the ache had become a sting and stop I did. I walked fast, breathing hard, hoping to work it out. I walked past my second and even third landmark before I thought I could try again. The second time I made it a little further, but was forced to stop sooner than I had hoped.

As I walked the route I usually run, I thought about how this was the perfect analogy for where we are at with homeschooling. Here was a path I had run many times before, but today I couldn't run a quarter of it. I was set back. I was behind the place I had hoped and expected to be. Somehow, with the running, this didn't bother me so much. I suppose it's because I don't run to reach goals, I run to get exercise and relieve stress. I can do that running five miles or I can do that running one. Running isn't about goals, it is about the doing of it for me. It is enough that I am on the right track, moving forward-- walking or running-- and that I am challenged. Besides, I know from experience that if I am consistent enough, I will go the distances before long.

The same is true, I realized, with school. Now is not the time for goals. Now is the time to do it for the doing of it and be satisfied that we are challenged and moving forward. Now is the time for patience and consistency and before I know it, we will be going the distances. I resolve not to be defeated.

When I reached my three quarters landmark, I mustered all I had and ran at a slower-than-normal, but very steady pace. As the sting left my lungs, I could almost hear the instrumental piece from Chariots of Fire cheering me on... da, da, da, da, da, da... da, da, da, dum...When I rounded the corner to the house and crossed the finish line at last, I was still feeling as though I could run forever.

Loveliness Fair: The Loveliness of New Year's Resolutions


Johane said...

How true. It is very easy to fall out of a routine. Not always so easy to get back into it.

Thank you for reminding me that all I need to do to get back into my routine is to "tie on my sneakers" and just go, at a steady warm-up pace to start with, and move forward. At least with the forward moment, I won't keep falling behind!

Karen E. said...

Great post. Yes ... the Yeats quote fits neatly here, too: "Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire." Keep the fires burning, and you're there ....

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

I love this post!

Amy said...

What a great attitude! Thank you for sharing that post with us.

Cheryl said...

I agree..very good attitude!! I would bet that in the scheme of life they are not behind at all; but very much ahead!!! ;)

Kristen Laurence said...

You are blessed with a wonderful attitude towards the slow progress and set backs of life.

I totally don't get the running thing, though. I would have stopped after the first instance of pain!

Marjorie said...

What a wonderful reminder of the power and grace from perseverance - and a good attitude. Thanks for sharing this.

Ann Horan said...

You go girl! We have been feeling the pain around here too. But after many years I try to remember that slow and steady wins the race. It is just too bad I can't get myself to believe that enough to exercise!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

The beautiful thing about homeschooling, though, is that we are never truly behind because we are living our education, as Katherine in Texas says.

Having said that, though, I do agree that there are those moments where we need to "pick up the pace" a bit in this lovely lifelong race we're running.