Saturday, January 12, 2008
I went to an unschooling conference today.
I felt giddy as I drove down the road, a cup of hot, steamy tea by my side, NPR's Scott Simon on the radio, a whole day of just-me ahead. I absolutely adore workshops, especially on unschooling. I adore the swirl of energy and ideas. I adore the intense sharing. I adore receiving earth-shattering insights, something to dig into, cut my teeth on, dissect and assimilate into my life as it changes at that very moment. I especially adore the people who are part of this revolutionary movement.
I almost didn't go. I can get a little too comfortable sometimes, the old "I've heard it before" stagnant voice of practicality. And I never quite realize how much I need it until I get it. It's a pep talk. But more than that, it speaks to the very core of me. When I leave I feel an overwhelming amount of emotion because I'm just so incredibly smitten with this lifestyle, and so incredibly grateful I discovered it while my kids were still young.
The keynote speaker was Manish Jain of India. In my tired but inspired delirium, I'm not sure I have the words to explain just how much I received from his wisdom. He sat us in a circle and fostered a lively, moving, meaningful dialogue about unschooling, life, connections, and community. The group dynamic was very powerful, and I was moved to suggest we start a yahoo discussion e-list to continue this intense, much-needed conversation. Many were willing.
I am always so incredibly moved after experiences like this, and as I drove home, I allowed the beauty of it to envelop me. I meditated on how to carry this feeling of deep, inner peace with me as the regular trials of life and my mainstream surroundings pick away at the edges. And I was eager to see my family when I arrived home, as I am so full-up with love and laughter after such events and can't wait to share it with those I love most.
All day, though, I felt a good cry coming on. It's not unusual for me to melt into a puddle over something emotional, but usually it's triggered by negative events. Today, I was feeling peaceful and happy - and yet the tears brimmed. As I listened to A Prairie Home Companion on my way home tonight, Roy Blount Jr read a few excerpts from his new book, Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South. I daydreamed a bit, but at one point he told a story of an infant in ICU that had a skin disorder that was so severe, his skin would come off as the nurses bathed him.
Well, the nurses said they couldn't stand the babe's crying. They couldn't bear it. And Roy Blount Jr. told them, "We have to. We have to bear it." He held the infant as the nurses bathed him as gently as they could, and all the while the babe screamed. But Roy still held him. He sang to him. Brahms Lullaby. And in time the baby settled down and looked into Roy's eyes and held his gaze. They did this time and again, held him through the screaming and sang Brahms Lullaby, and eventually the medical gurus worked their beautiful magic, and eventually the boy was healed. He grew up with a love for classical music and was happy.
Surrender.... The tears came and this time, I let them fall. They streamed down my face as I processed the incredibly loving spirit of this man toward this incredibly miserable babe.
As we know, when we cry, we cry for many things. I cried for all the times I needed to cry recently but didn't. I cried because of all the pain in the world. I cried because I am so blessedly unaware of all of the pain in the world. I cried because all of the people at the conference I'd just attended are working to make life beautiful for their children. I cried because I needed to cry.
I send my heartfelt thanks to those who made the conference happen, and to the speakers and facilitators for sharing themselves and their gifts with us.
Life is good. The road ahead is full of possibilities.