Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nerves. Virtue.

Today I got up at 5:30 -- in the morning in the dark -- because it was my first teaching day, and my first day is always anxious, even though I taught my first college class 41 years ago as a graduate assistant in the English Department at Duke.

Teaching is something you never quite figure out, which is one reason I think I can work happily until I'm 70 or -- and at this point the Dean's blood runs cold and she leans against the wall for support -- even longer. Some days you try things, pedagogical things, and they fall so flat. But that can be invigorating in an odd way. Redemption is only a class away.

(On the earth the broken arcs; in heaven a perfect round. Robert Browning anyone?)

I was up so very early because I scheduled myself an 8:30 class this semester, adjusting my times to the convenience of others, a possibly forgettable fact, so I will remind certain colleagues of it regularly. But isn't the air perfumed with virtue when you rise before the sun.

I got to the university about 8 and bumped into H., who was striding past the parking lot, as if downhill. I stretched my legs and matched his stride so I could brag a little about how early I had got up.

Well, I get up at 4 every day, he said. Every day. Can't stay in bed. I made some weak comment about how he must get a lot done in the morning, and he said well he did walk to work and then home again every day, and that used up a couple hours.

Perhaps, there's the lesson about doing good. It just rubs you up against people who do better.
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