This past week I slept two floors above where I used to work. It was odd. As I walked past my old office I had a flood of memories and mixed emotions. Stranger still was being there at night. Hearing the sounds of the deep forest behind me and the going’s on of the university campus at night. The clear sound of songbirds in the early morning with no urban soundscape to muffle the lovely notes of a forest waking to the day. The greys and greens and mossy damp of the castle quietly slumbering before its inhabitants arrive for work and beyond, the ocean lapping in on the edge of this university that has been in my life for over half a decade.
As I walked to my classroom in the morning, I thought how different my experience was an an employee versus now. I feel the lightness of freedom, and while it does come at a price (no government benefits, no days, as in ever, where you can coast through, or attend a two-hour meeting that goes nowhere, or go to a potluck party for a colleague), I realize with every step that my freedom is, above all, the most important thing to me because it allows me to teach in a way that was not possible before as an ’employee’.
In the classroom there are moments when I look into the students eyes and see the connection between what I am saying and their understanding of it. This makes it all worth it, the moment of interaction around an idea, where we journey from the beginning of the day to somewhere else by the end. I’m never really sure if we’ll make it. I’m never really sure if the students will come with me. I’m never sure if what I’ll say will have any meaning for them. All I can be sure of, as I walk into the classroom, is that I will give my entire being to it as long as they entrust me to be their guide for the time we are together.
It’s a truly beautiful campus when the lens you look through is the one you were meant to see with. If you ever have a chance to visit, be sure to wander the gardens. They are extraordinary and I guarantee you will find inspiration there. Hatley Park is a National Heritage site in Canada which is often overlooked when folks come to visit Victoria. If you are able, visit in late May when the Forsythia is in bloom and walk the walled Rose Garden. The scent will linger in your imagination long after you are gone.