Friday, January 1, 2016

Two Years Ago Today...

January 1, 2014

The Yaro.

Though I am loath to take up any more space on these splendid pages, I was asked by Lesliekay to do just that. Her note found me, as they all do now, in the Beehive cabin that Mrs. Yaro and I pad around, post retirement, post breakfast (as it so happens), post a brief but energetic session of snow moving. (For it is not removed, merely reconstituted elsewhere, alight from the path.)

We're in a lovely valley, and the sun obliges in winter with long and careful tracking through our southern windows. How the cares and worries of a long academic career have faded, swiftly, in a wink. Surprising. What weight they all had at one point, and now, not even a feather's worth.

I do check in on these pages, though not as often as I did once. And I send you all my good wishes as you solve and sometimes re-solve problems that afflict all of us who love higher education (and longshot ponies).

A former colleague, Ianthe, wrote me last week with a long list of academic grievances. She was a mentee years ago, and I suppose always thus. Her list was not unlike your own, I imagine, and it broke my spirit to see how hard she fought, seemingly without assistance from those around her. I replied to her, "Tell me, dear Ianthe, a story of your favorite student this term. Tell me how that student surprised you, awakened you, showed you that the endeavour was still worth the striving. If you can tell me about one, then there is reason enough to continue."

And of course, she could. And of course, she did. And it was a funny tale, and one that I recognized in the fading and nearly lost faces of my own dears over the, well, over it all, over my whole life.

And Ianthe's joy shone through in her words and the tale, and we exchanged our Happy New Years, electronically, in the manner.

I will no doubt hear from Ianthe again, and I hope to remind her in the same way, of the small gifts of a good student, the sudden silver in our spirits.

I bless you all with my good thoughts on this new year.



  1. I still love this essay and consider it the flip side of "Don't care more than they do". You are free to pour you effort and heart into the ones the do care.

    1. Indeed. It seems that Yaro has not given up teaching, even if he is no longer in the classroom. I had some very good (and also some very hard-working, if struggling) students last semester, and it's good to be reminded of that, especially since my final email exchange of the semester consisted of replying as calmly and patiently as I could to a series of increasingly agitated, and eventually downright rude, emails from a student (one with whom I enjoyed interacting for most of the semester) who was unhappy about a B+. That student is actually one of the ones who *do* care, and I don't regret the time I spent with hir, just wish that caring in general didn't in this case come packaged with caring a bit too much about grades. But so it goes, and I'm pretty sure (s)he got something useful from the class, if not the grade (s)he wanted.

      Thanks to Yaro for the reminder. I hope he and Mrs. Yaro continue to enjoy life in the Beehive cabin; they deserve it.