Watercolor. And other uncertainties.

This morning, I tried a little watercolor painting. I taped off the paper like I’ve watched artists do. Then I dipped my brush in water I poured into what I’ve otherwise thought of as a small glass ice cream dish. I dabbed the wet bristles onto a turquoise tablet and then, before I could think too much about it, I swirled my brush in a circular motion in the upper left corner of my canvas. I rinsed and repeated. Dip, dab, swirl. Dip, dab, swirl. When I gained a little confidence, I got a little crazy and swirled in the opposite direction. Yeah, I really had no idea what I was doing, but thought, “None of us knows what we’re doing right now. Why should I be any different?”

Monday I resume teaching. I’m looking forward to it. I have enjoyed the past week of spring break, but I’m ready to have a defined purpose again. You can only nerd out on your own for so long.

I’m not sure what, exactly, teaching will look like come Monday. We have a few days of virtual teaching and learning under our belt and I have lesson plans ready, but you know what they say about the best laid plans…

I know I’m not the only one feeling uncertain. Not only is all this new for all of us, but I teach high school seniors. I’m not sure if you know this, but there’s a direct correlation between the decrease in school days until graduation and the increase in senior student uncertainty. Pre-wedding jitters ain’t got nothing on pre-graduation jitters.

Yes, a funny thing happens as spring spans on and graduation grows near. In creeps a little panic. (For students, that is. Me? I’m fine. I know how this goes.) There’s still the usual apathy (Ugh! Who cares?) and frustration (Why do I have to ask to go to the bathroom? I’m basically an adult! Ugh!!), but in creeps uncertainty. And, just to make it fun, all other emotions flood in along with it. Seniors begin to feel it all and all at once. And they become these big walking, talking, epitomes of humanity.

“What if I don’t know what I’m doing?!”

Relax, I tell them. And then I share the secret: None of us know what we’re doing.

They don’t believe me, of course. And why would they? They’ve spent the past several years answering our questions about where they see themselves in five, ten, or fifteen years. We’ve instilled within them this idea that you create a plan and then you follow it and then…voila! Except, you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Here was my plan when I was their age:

I was going to attend Winona State University.
– I decided to go to UW-Whitewater instead.
– I figured I’d transfer from Whitewater after my first year.
– I was going to be a radio DJ.
– I was going to move back to Greenfield, Wisconsin where I’d live the rest of my life.
– I would be married by my mid-twenties.
– I would have kids in my late-twenties.
– I would then live happily after.
Here’s how that worked out:
– It didn’t.
So many other things did though. I’ve had experiences and opportunities I could have never dreamed of — especially not as a senior in high school. I had no idea… well, period. I had no idea.
I get that some people (think they) know exactly what they’re doing. That’s wonderful(ly naive). I don’t. And I’m okay with that.
What I do know is that I made a watercolor painting today. I don’t know if it’s good. I know I enjoyed it. I know I didn’t know what I was doing when I did it. And I know that, my friends, is life. Beautiful, uncertain, promising life.

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