A bear doesn't waddle out of hibernation and run a half marathon- it lounges, it scratches and it yawns.
Every now and again, I pry myself out of a dream by straining to open my eyes. In the dream, I am battling a temporary blindness. My perception is covered in thick phlegm as I crawl and flail, trying to grab ahold of something tangible to hoist myself upon. Eventually I awake, run to the can and flop back into a fresh dream. (Think: riding horses through the Yukon Rockies with Teddy Roosevelt or sharing a piano bench with Ray Charles as we sing "Seven Spanish Angels" on the Johnny Cash Show.)
There's something about transition that mirrors these gooey eyed nightmares. I am here early to shake off that haze before starting a new job.
When I moved to South Carolina after college, I had less than a week to orient myself with the unknown before teaching my first class. I spent months of that first year trying to figure out what happened.
One day, a few weeks in, a class of third graders bumped me over the edge. The verdict was still out on the mama's boy newb with a penchant for plaid. They decided to prod my patience. The little girl in the magenta dress hollered over our singing that class was "BORING". The avid nose picker with the Carolina Panthers jersey let me know that I looked "ESPECIALLY FAT TODAY". The boy in the back said "THIS BLOWS, LET'S GO TO GYM." and began to rise. It felt like a snowball to the face, packed with rocks of indifference, hurled by 28 little hands.
There's always a lot to learn.
While the PE teacher covered my class ("YAY"-boy in the back), I slithered to the administrative wing to hide: "I CAN'T DO THIS, IT'S TOO HARD". Lucky for me, teacher types are teacherly towards one another too. A counselor cradled me and explained how the first year is brutal. I was vulnerable after moving 600 miles from the state I had lived in since birth, from paying rent with my own paychecks and choosing life insurance beneficiaries to investing retirement money and paying property taxes through my car registration (I lived in an apartment complex!). I went from being 22 to 65 on a weekend.
What really burned was that I couldn't motivate a class of innocent youngins to get behind a Foo Fighters song- a song that had nearly caused me to drive into the ocean on my way to work that morning. Their 'apathy' spiraled through me like a Blue Fox Vibrax ripples through the flesh of a shiny silver salmon. I envisioned myself speeding north, windows down, Zeppelin blaring.
The last thing the counselor said as she patted me out the door was: "What you perceive as indifference is actually a yearning to learn. Teach them to care by sharing those experiences and feelings. You've skipped a step". I was back in the classroom minutes later with my pride in check and my guitar in hand.
We all walk the long road.
Six years later, it's a different scene. I'm grateful for the distance traveled since that first year, a result of the tremendous support I've received throughout my young career. I'm especially grateful for each of the musicians I've had the honor of working with- brothers and sisters of the craft.