A couple of years ago, I felt stuck in place. I had been teaching in the inner city for a number of years, and along with administrative duties, tutoring, and coaching, my well was simply dry. And I also had a nagging sense I wasn’t living out my true vocation. Unconsciously, a deep inner resistance set in. I hit the level of the perpetual malcontent.
On the other hand, this was a profession I was improving in, with the stability of pay, vacation, benefits, overtime, community, and so on. Jumping into anything else seemed like starting over at the bottom. But even more deeply, to leave felt like some kind of abandonment, dereliction of duty, a failure, giving up.
Recently, my wife and I were discussing where to send our son to school, closer to where we live or closer to where he goes to pre-school now at my wife’s church. At some point the conversation shifted to a discussion of our son’s personality and social skills. When he’s in his comfort zone, he’s gregarious, outgoing, and sociable. At his Summer camp, though, out of his element, he’s more of a loner.
My wife reflected on her own experience in school. She remembered the in-crowd seemed to have some kind of bond or a secret language and it was hard to break in. Then it hit her, their parents all knew each other. These kids knew each other outside of school. The solution? I would have to step up and initiate social contacts to help smooth the path for our son when he started school. Not the most attractive of tasks. As a general rule, if I can avoid small talk, I will.
A few weeks ago, in a moment of honesty and self-awareness, a friend of mine confessed to feeling less excited than they expected about the recent spike in national dialogue about systemic injustice.
Even though this person both studied this problem deeply and worked as an activist for several years, they asked “what if I was passionate because I got something out of it? Years ago, I was one of the few white people I knew actively organizing against systemic racial injustice. Now it seems like common knowledge, less unique. Is that why I’m not as passionate now?”