Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Break Art from the Dutch and Reflections from the Grind

Hendrick Avercamp, Winter Landscape, late 16th century, Oil on wood

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Hunters in the Snow 1565; Oil on panel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap 1565; Oil

From Pieter to Rubens to Rembrandt, I love the art of the Dutch. At the end of every first semester, as I embark a short, but necessary, reprieve from the grind, I'm always reminded of the lovely 16th and 17th century winter scenes done most exquisitely by the Dutch. Aside from the evocative appeal of the Dutch landscape, I'm not sure what else it is that beckons me back each winter.

So, here I sit tonight, on the eve of the eve of the winter solstice, studying those Dutch Masters. And, I realize that sometimes it's difficult not to get caught up in the past. That, sometimes, reflection must occur, even if you don't like to go there. And, I rarely do.

That said, this is what I think:
I eliminated the complaining and the whining and got right to the heart of that meat, which is where I realized that I've had a really great year so far. Minimal stress (unless you count arguing with Welker about religion...the guy self-admitted knows nothing), minimal frustration (well, kids are still children even if they stand taller and bark louder than you), and minimal regret (as in I'm glad that I took this job). Not perfect, but what ever is?

I can also say that, thus far, these things have made me extremely happy, appreciative, and bowled over with tears, joy, and pride: helping Dando cast 2 plays, spending another 1/2 year with the kids in my Lunch Crew (go Class of 2009! Good Luck Brandon!), working diligently, writing some of the best damn curriculum that I've ever seen (yeah, I'm boasting), being able to moderate real, thought provoking debate from "underprivileged" kids who can *surprise* use words like globalization, unilateralism, and coup d'etat and know what they mean (well, at least most of them), having the respect of my colleagues (the ones that matter), and forcing myself to rise above the shit so that I can admire the beauty and artistry of what the kids do and I do everyday (sometimes tough to do). And, trust me, this is the short list.

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