Nothing memorable was ever accomplished in a prosaic mood of mind.
Henry David Thoreau, Journal (undated, but among his pages written while residing at Walden Pond)
My coffe mug has “Daily Grind” wrapped around the outside. I pulled it from my cupboard this morning as my message for the day. As a school teacher for twenty-eight years, I know the daily grind–too many subjects to teach to too many students in too many class periods with too little time for absorption per day. In twenty-eight years that has not changed, and I’m confident will not change. I love the film Rounders and the role played by John Turturro whom they refer to as “The Grinder.” He makes a living playing cards, finding a way to pay the mortgage, alimony and child support (“My kids eat.”). He is portrayed as a rather joyless sage who knows what he has to do daily to pay his bills.
But the paragraph just written is not what I consider the core of my life. For twenty-eight years, though grinding, I have blissfully educated myself, poring over the texts and materials necessary to put fresh bread before the students. And even if they did not absorb that daily nourishment, I did, incrementally, semester after semester, year after year. And I felt the growth of my own soul, appreciating every new shoot. My life has been enriched through the decades, doing what I’ve been hired to do.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
I echo the sentiments of Thoreau. I don’t sense within me a “prosaic mood of mind.” Throughout life, I have found a way to celebrate as I have fed on the religious sentiment, the literary and the artistic. It has all been good. And this day particularly has been good. Rising to my first cold morning of the season, I chose not to turn on central heating, but to go out back to my woodpile, fill the fireplace and begin a day-long fire. For four hours now, the crackling sound has soothed me as I’ve labored over a watercolor commission in my living room studio, enjoying the crisp winter light slanting across the drafting table and listening to Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.” This day has been filled with splendor because it marks the commencement of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Our schools are closed the entire week, so I will not be returning to the workplace on Monday. My holiday schedule is not exactly set in stone, but at least I know I have all the time necessary before me to complete this commission, then move on to the holidays.
Thanks for reading. The morning has been truly delicious.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.