I was at a conference (you might call it) for 5 days, which is why I haven’t posted. All of the teachers in our area, which is equivalent to a state, I suppose, gathered at a boarding school before the students returned and needed their beds. The men stayed in the classrooms, which were (luxuriously) equipped with mattresses that must have been collected from other boarding schools…There were 302 teachers and only about 180 boarding students at the school.
We had running water in the girl’s restroom 4 days out of 5, which was wonderful, and toilet paper in the restroom in the school’s multi-purpose hall where the various panels and lectures were held. They fed us three square meals a day, and if you were first in line you got a spoon to eat them with plus tea with snacks, and there was–amazingly–even soap for washing your dishes with afterward. So we were quite well taken care of.
Our head of schools has discovered exercise in recent years. Consequently, he had some ideas for us–aerobics and then what I later discovered is called raja yoga starting at 5:10 am.
Mornings are hard for me, as I have mentioned more than a few times on here, and normally I wake up early so that I can deal with some of that before the demands of life really begin. But being in a hostel situation (joke not really intended there) with not a lot of control over when I could get to sleep, and having to wake up at a fairly early hour, I had to make a hard (rather than a soft) start to the day.
This in itself was an experience for me, but there was one piece of it I wanted to focus on here.
I am not very good at aerobics, I ended up in a position where I could not see the instructor, and I was struggling to control all kinds of emotions. Because of that, I was not very good at the steps, but I made the deal with myself just to go through the motions and I told myself that was good enough.
There was a student–student leaders from various schools came and were put to work–not far from me and she seemed to already know the steps. Maybe they had been taught beforehand or maybe she was just good at this kind of thing. At any rate, I copied her.
We did all of this for three of the five days. The other two were devoted to traveling, because two busses needed to shuttle teachers from quite a few different schools. After a day or two of watching this girl, I began to feel something for her. I don’t know if everyone in that situation would, but I did. I began to feel an interest in this girl, to wonder what kind of person she was and what her life was like. I knew nothing about her, and I did not have any contact with her the rest of the day. There were kids serving us tea and breakfast, but she wasn’t in my group.
The third day, she moved away from me and I wondered if that had anything to do with me. I thought it possible: if someone has been staring at you for two days, you might start to feel weird if you don’t realize it’s because you have been turned unwittingly into a replacement aerobics instructor and nothing creepier than that.
At the end of the three days, in the morning that we were leaving, there was a farewell ceremony–Country Xers are big on ceremony and on greetings and farewells. There were some speeches, which I didn’t understand, and we shook hands in a kind of moving half-circle, so that most people had the chance to shake hands with everyone else.
I got to the students, and I wanted to thank them for helping us, because really they had worked hard and done a lot for the teachers. I said similar things to most of them, some more at length than others. When I got to the boy next to her, I could see she was very interested in what I had to say. But then when it was her turn, her attitude somehow changed. She didn’t make eye contact and she seemed somehow a bit hard. It affected me, and I what I said to her came out more mumbly-fumbly and less sincere.
I have been thinking how, when we feel we don’t deserve something, we push it away to avoid the pain of grappling with that. I wondered if she was doing that. If she pushed it away and, in consequence actually got less, although she had not done any less well.
When C was in my house, I realized that she didn’t ask for any attention. The other two kids relentlessly demand attention: so, although I tried, they got it and she didn’t. Not because she didn’t deserve it, but because she didn’t ask for it.
I just wondered about it.