Last night I dreamed that I was being asked--no, forced--to teach a 5 class load on top of my 40+ hours that I spend on administrative tasks. If my dream had lasted much longer, I'd have probably jumped off a building or a bridge (and then I probably would have been asked to do all that from my hospital bed!).
I see this dream as a metaphor on so many levels. This week, for the past few days, I've felt bone crunchingly tired when I woke up. I'm usually an energetic person in the mornings. I'm told that can be annoying. But for the past few days, I could barely muster the energy to make some coffee. I wake up feeling as if the day's tasks are more overwhelming than they turn out to be.
Happily, this week I'm fleeing the Florida flatlands to go to an Arts and Creativity retreat in the N.C. mountains (you could still come too--go here for more details). I hope to come back refreshed. I had been going great guns on the poem-a-day project, but on Friday, I went to bed without writing a poem and haven't written much since. Hmm. Like I said, I'm in need of a retreat.
I also look at that dream and wonder if it's telling me that I miss teaching. I only miss some of the teaching that I used to do. I feel somewhat sad at not teaching sophomore survey classes or upper-level English classes anymore. I quit teaching those in 2003, when it became harder to juggle adjunct work with my full-time job, which was mostly first year classes. Happily, that full-time job also led to some Creative Writing classes, and then to my current administrative job.
The other morning, I woke up wondering if I could juggle a Victorian Brit Lit class along with my administrative schedule. I pondered that question for about 3 minutes before deciding, no, not really, not right now.
I wish I was the kind of person that returned to much-beloved classics on a regular basis, like my Florida friend who reads her way through Shakespeare as the year progresses, or my South Carolina friend who reads Anna Karenina on a regular basis. Much as I love the classics, I tend to revisit them only when I'm teaching them. Otherwise, I'm reading to try to fill in the gaps in my education or for escapist pleasure or for theological edification. Currently, I'm reading The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science and remembering how much Science I never knew or have forgotten--Natalie Angier is the most wondrous writer!
I think my dream also shows that for much of my working life, even as I've been happy with whichever job I've had at the time, I've wondered what I was giving up by keeping that job. For every door that opens, I worry that ten others have slammed shut permanently. One of the things I miss most about undergraduate school was that idea that every door was open, every choice was possible, and that there was plenty of time. Sure, those ideas might have been illusions, but I liked them, and I miss them.