The realization suddenly entered my mind. I missed the children. Sure I was well aware of missing being in nature, missing hiking every day, missing the peaceful contentment the secluded nature sanctuary presented and the warm acceptance of the education team. Transplanted to the heart of the competitive capital, behind a desk in a cubical all day, abruptly urban living in a stuffy city with a shortage of friendly faces, of course I knew, something surely was amiss. But suddenly, it was the children I missed.
Guiding groups of thirty third graders out to roll over rotten logs and collect insects. Hiking in all kinds of weather, with complaining complacent teens, bird watching without a bird in sight, sure it could be a pain. But gardening in school courtyards with middle schoolers, transforming schoolyards into habitats- and transforming their playgrounds into critters’ homes in the eyes of first graders; laughing with the popular princess high schoolers’ attempts at handling flailing life fish straight from the bay… Now, there is something truly transformative about that.
It is the teaching I miss, not just the beautiful waterfront on my door step, the old growth forest hugging my home/classroom combination. The creaky old creepy empty mansion on dark cold nights. The line of kayaks awaiting my leisure, the quiet evenings of yoga and art, the friendships shared, the conversations enjoyed, the meals savored. I left a lot I would pine for. But the children were the joy, the challenge, the reward. Their eager neediness, exactly what I needed.
As much as being a naturalist, an educator was perfect, a more perfect opportunity presented itself.
To arrive at an organization where my typically radical views became the norm, our name announced in the media became routine, name dropping renown environmental and political figures calling on Line Three became another daily task. Influencing national and international policy and understanding, healing the subsistence of our lives, our food, but of course it’s all very compelling. Intellectually inspiring, philosophically fascinating, spiritually satisfying work to be done. Mending the broken system, fighting corporate forces and corrupt institutions with truth and knowledge, advocacy and litigation. It’s stand up work to be sure. The kind of exposure I dreamt of for years. But now, I restlessly wonder what I can fulfil from behind the desk, how can I possibly connect on this infamous hill, where I’m surrounded by people and feeling more alone than ever.
I traded sanctuary for a sea of like minded admirable people; traded engineered crops for organic policy. Somehow it’s startled out me of all those feelings of self worth I filled myself up with. Regression.
As Fergie so eloquently sang, her singing stuck in my dizzy head for too long,
The smell of your skin lingers on me now
You’re probably on your flight back to your home town
I need some shelter of my own protection, baby
To be with myself and center
Clarity, peace, serenity
I hope you know, I hope you know
That this has nothing to do with you
It’s personal, myself and I
We’ve got some straightenin’ out to do…
The path that I’m walkin’, I must go alone
I must take the baby steps ’til i’m full grown, full grown
Fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending, do they?
And I foresee the dark ahead if I stay
Yes, you can hold my hand if you want to
‘Cause I want to hold yours too
We’ll be playmates and lovers
And share our secret worlds
But it’s time for me to go home
It’s getting late, dark outside
I need to be with myself, and center
Clarity, peace, serenity
And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket
But I’ve got to get a move on with my life
It’s time to be a big girl now