Wednesday, 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. All the best to you, Yaro, in your retirement.
    "She is the wheel to my barrow" is a phrase that will never leave me.

  2. Glorious. Be well, Professor Yaro.

  3. Bless you, sir. The more you visit us, the better we like it. And the reminder to look for the students who are involved and let the rest roll off our backs (like water off ducks) is timely, as I return after my sabbatical.

  4. Happy New Year to the Yaros and to all the CM community!

  5. Cheese and crackers, what relevant and perfect advice. My life has really spun out of control, and quickly, as my new job is requiring WAY more than any other job I've had before. And I'm stupidly keeping a little online action on the side, in order to climb out of debt and save up a down payment for a house. At times it can be really easy to let the negative and stressful experiences to overwhelm me. And it's important to see past the stress and into the core of our work.

    Stress aside: I am having a blast this term. Being a part of decision-making processes, faculty meetings, administrative decisions, and policy creation is AMAZING. My students are challenging, but there are favorites. One student in particular brights up my day every time I see him. And as I turned out the lights in my classroom and office before Break, I found myself whistling. Life maybe full of challenges and surprises, but I am still very sure that this is the career for which I am best suited.

    Glad to hear you still drop by the page at times, Yaro. Please feel free to comment on occasion!

  6. Always a pleasure to hear from you, Yaro. Thank you.

  7. I don't have such a story. Back to the special Christmas scotch, I guess....

  8. Lovely! Take up these 'splendid' pages all you want. Thank you.

  9. This is how I needed to start 2014. Thank you, Yaro!

  10. Some comments from email:
    "I come back once a week or so just in case Yaro comes around." "Yaro's ability to turn a phrase is breathtaking. I love 'sudden silver in our spirits.' Who else can do that?" "Oh, to be Yaro's mentee. Although I guess in a way I am already." "I had a mentor retire last year; it was a terrific loss, and it made me more aware of being a better mentor to junior faculty where I teach." "God bless Yaro, in the manner."

  11. So good to hear from you, Yaro, and to hear that you are enjoying your cabin, and your sunny southern windows, and a periodic bout of snow relocation. It sounds lovely. Please do check in when you can; like Ianthe, we can use your wisdom, and your encouragement.

    I can't, at the moment, recall a favorite student from last term (though I can think of a few who were interesting and/or refreshing in various ways, including working very, very hard to pass a class that was especially hard for them). That, I suspect, speaks as much to my own exhaustion as to the quality of last term's students. So, a resolution: try to notice more (despite what looks like a crazily busy semester ahead).

  12. Thank you, Yaro! You made my day!

  13. Thank you, dear Yaro, and I hope this is not too late for you to see. Your writing is always a pleasure and a wise reminder for cogs like me.


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