Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pointless Ambitions

I have been teaching since 1980, going from one semester to the next mostly without expectations or ambitions. I have become fully involved in what I was teaching at the moment, without much thinking of what else I could be doing or where else I could be teaching.
Mostly this was because I was first in graduate school, next taking care of a small child with challenges (both mine and the child's), and then taking care of my parents, which of course, I am still doing. It seemed impossible to dream of a full time job teaching writing, literature, etc., as well as composition, though I did spend years trying to apply for such jobs all over the world. How many times I regretted turning down some of the offers I have gotten over the years, I can't tell you! I turned them down because of the child, the parents, the fears I had that I couldn't hack it. And maybe, insofar as the job in CompLit at the U was concerned, I really couldn't because my language skills are poor, no matter how hard I've worked at it.
But now that I am writing again seriously, these ambitions have woken up, and made me look longingly at positions I know I could fill, teaching creative writing at liberal arts colleges. Especially since I recently helped to judge a poetry contest at the college and found them uninspired at best, for the most part, uneducated about poetry, naive, I have been thinking that I could turn some of those people into real poets, if they wanted to be poets. I could at least teach them how it's done, if they wanted to know.
But I still can't go anywhere. I'm still responsible for my parents, still waiting for R's job at the U to wind up. Unless something local should fall into my lap, I am going to go on doing what I am doing till I drop. Could be worse I guess. I get to teach whatever I want, among people I like, and maybe I can talk someone at another college into letting me teach a workshop. Who knows?


Robin said...

It's easy to regret choices we made, but if you're doing what you love--teaching and writing, that's what matters most! Think of all the students you helped over the years, or the readers you have inspired with your poetry. You're making a difference in the best way, whether or not you ever get that coveted full-time job.

Robbi said...

You are right, of course, Robin. And I know it. I wouldn't want to do anything else but teach, and I'm grateful to be able to do it.

liz said...

I cannot believe you would label
any of your ambitions "pointless"!
Each shining facet of you, wrapped in that yogic dynamic petite package, affects peoples lives importantly. How can you decide who's lives you affect?
Like some poetic webbiness (what a great word ) I bet your inner self knows you are exactly where you are meant to be doing the hard work and most good right now.

Robbi said...

Thank you Liz. But I realize now that I am coming out of a fog of fear I lived in for so long that I could have been teaching creative writing or literature full time in several places, at jobs I turned down. I guess it is a lesson to me to do what I can where I am, and not to be afraid.