I find a jumping off point tonight by sharing the prescient lyrics of Semisonic’s 1998 song “Closing Time”: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Speaking from personal experience, endings are tricky for me. I’m sure they are for many people.
But I’m not many people. Just me.
So I’ll stick to what I know in terms of POV on more personal matters.
I’m realizing that teaching is like one big D.C. al Coda where you never quite make the coda (well until you quit or retire).
For those of you who don’t know what that music term means, it references a point in the structure of a composition where you get to a spot in the piece, pick up and go back to the beginning and then when you reach what is called the coda sign you go the end of the piece and finish.
Sound complex? It can be at first. But you figure it out. Like most stuff.
This analogy breaks down in actuality because when you go back to the beginning in music the notes are the same. The rhythms are the same.
But as a music teacher, when we go to the beginning of the year we’ve lost students, introduced new ones. Planned new curriculum or literature, discarded ideas no longer relevant.
In my world as a high school director next year is turning out to be a year of many changes, some planned, some not. And it’s got me spinning a little.
Because endings are tricky. I’ve always struggled with saying goodbye. And doing it each year doesn’t really get any easier.
It’s just that I’ve just figured out how to kick the emotional can down the road a bit farther. After graduation, I end up dealing with it on my car ride home playing the requisite sad song to trigger the release of the necessary waterworks to empty the can I’ve kicked.
Well since you are kind enough to read my blog now and again, I’m taking a chance to let a little out now.
Regardless of whatever the end, well, ends up looking like, it’s an opportunity to be mindful of what might be going on beyond outward actions and words.
To that point, I’ve observed my seniors each year falling into some broad categories in how they end their high school careers. The energy of this BIG change in their lives ramps up pretty aggressively the last two weeks.
*cue last two weeks
A few categories…
- Holding tight to everything they’ve known in an effort to delay the inevitable conveyor belt on which they are moving
- Pushing everything they’ve known as far away as possible, maybe even in damaging and permanent ways
- Relishing moments as they happen, almost moving in slow motion
- Speeding through in an effort to just be done and get on with the next thing
And of course some students are a blend of some or all of these. And some of them are none of them and create their own unique categories.
This year I’m saying goodbye to 70 beautiful seniors with whom I’ve spent thousands of hours. I’m saying goodbye to a cherished friend and colleague who is taking an important opportunity to provide for his family. I’m saying goodbye to a way of running the band program which I’ve known for 14 years. And I’m saying goodbye to parts of myself that I’ve outgrown.
Change is scary for me. If I had to assign a category for myself from above, I fit into the “holding tight to everything I’ve known” group. And my knuckles are white with some of the holding on. So I’m working on letting go.
As this year draws to a close and I prepare for all of these good-byes, I want to remind myself to take time to feel the feels as they happen. Maybe not kick the can so far down the road. And be open to enjoying and noticing all the different ways students, friends, and colleagues will be saying good-bye to me, too.
Because, as Semisonic reminds us…
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.