I do not back down, and I do not give up hope. Period.
Also, you all (or at least you all who are my long-time readers) know me well enough to know that I'm not bragging when I tell you that I've had a student from each of my classes actually thank me for a class session in the past two weeks. I'm telling you because it's been the great dawning realization of my week, figuring out how much less anxiety and how much more joy I feel in my classrooms this semester, which is in no way to suggest that it's easy. Teaching takes all of me--intellect, emotion, humor, compassion, physical stamina, patience, humility, focus, concentration--and it takes it for 80 minute stretches. This year, more than ever before, I feel as though more of the individual class sessions I conduct actually have shapes and purposes of their own. We move faster now than before I went away, and we push harder on almost every single thing that comes up. And I know, every day, that I'm supposed to be doing this work.
By the end of this afternoon's faculty reception for our ongoing family weekend, a pair of grandparents had told me that they were ready to sign up for one of my classes, and the mother of one of my students had pulled me aside to tell me what my class started saying about me as they left the lecture hall this afternoon. Which means, I think, that they must be able to see how what I'm doing lights me up inside--even when what I'm doing is delivering a 40-minute presentation about the MLA International Bibliography--and that, in turn, must be lighting them up at least a little, too. There's a lot of intellectual love flying around over here, these days.
I have tried not to talk about my job here very often, but today it's just not tenable to leave it out.