It’s like that time you were a kid; that hot summer day in the middle of July. School was out so you had time to kill. You’re at the top of the steepest hill in the neighborhood, straddling the bike that came as a birthday gift two summers ago. The road seems as long as it is wide, dropping sharply down and sneaking into the distance like a storybook sketch. You click the buckle of your chinstrap and adjust your helmet. Taking a deep breath, you whisper to yourself:
“Ready. Set. GO!”
You kick the bike forward and push the pedals as hard as you can, sprinting on the top of the bike. A breeze brushes past, your bike picking up speed as you approach the descent. You stop pedaling abruptly, crouching low over the top of the handlebars. Feeling the weight of your momentum take you over the peak of the hill, you break into the sharp descent. The chains of the bike whirr beneath your feet, the soundtrack of your ride. Leaning left and leaning right, you cascade down the hill with a smile on your face. Excitement builds up in your chest, the type of exhilaration that comes from a high-speed thrill. You weave past the broken pieces and pockets of the road, the remaining evidence of the past winter’s toll. The streaming wind feels warm against your cheeks as you careen around a bend in the road.
Just then a vehicle blows past you on your right. Startling you, the bike nearly tumbles as you flinch to your left. Overcompensating back to the right, you wobble back into control. Quickly easing back onto the seat, you press onto the brakes of the handlebar. You pull off into the apron of a driveway, skidding to a stop under a shaded tree on the sidewalk lawn.
Placing your feet on the ground, you take a moment to slowly gain back your breath. You know that road receives traffic, you just usually hear it coming first. As your heart rate settles back down, you begin to think…
Sometimes it seems we get too comfortable. Sometimes when we’ve done something for a long time, we just kind of fall into the routine of things. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and all of a sudden, it’s another year gone. Lost in routine, we sometimes lose sight of what we should expect; then are somehow surprised when they actually happen. We know better, but somehow whether it’s the thrill or the routine or both, we still manage to lose track every time.
This year, much like riding down that hill, has been nothing but a thrill. I had gotten comfortable, though, quickly cruising along this road to who I am becoming. However, things as they often do, began moving fast. Almost too fast. Then just like the day I was careening down the hill, something I should have expected caught me off guard.
It’s nothing new. Just as I should have expected traffic to be on the road, I should have expected the year to be approaching its inevitable end. These things should be expected to happen, simply because they always do. That doesn’t mean they still can’t surprise you when they come.
I recently took the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). I spent the past few months studying and preparing for it, adding more stress but less time to my days after school. I’ve been making time to figure out my next step, trying to keep moving fast and stay ahead of the game. But as exciting as the future can be, it can also be overwhelming.
There’s been a teachers’ strike taking place on and off for the past two weeks across the island here. The details of the strike I won’t get into, as I’m certainly not in a position to divulge in either way. So the few days I’ve had off from school have been spent studying and now that the test has been taken, I’ve been exploring the different possibilities that the future might hold for me.
During that process, the realization has come that 2018 is almost over and the final homestretch to the finish of this journey is right around the corner. I got comfortable in my routine of life and school, cruising down a high-speed hill. Then just as the thrill of the ride seems to peak, an unsuspecting reality check forced me to pump the brakes and regain control. These reality checks, although sometimes surprising, are often necessary. Sometimes when they catch you off guard, you just have to pull off to the side of the road and recapture your breath.
I think I’m ready to discover what 2019 has in store, but I’m not exactly ready for 2018 to end. It seems like I’m caught between worlds, just needing a little bit more time to figure all of this out. I’m almost to where I want to be; but there’s more work to be done. I’m not there yet.
And that’s okay, because there’s still time. I still have the rest of the hill to go. And I know exactly what I need to do to get there.
Sometimes you just have to catch your breath first.
…so like that July afternoon, I’ll walk my bike back to the curb, kick forward, and careen the rest of the way down the hill.
(A few snapshots of my students’ work over the past couple of weeks).