17 October 2009

A Nor'easter and the Force of Personality

Well, the Nor'easter didn't blow through until a couple of hours ago. But the day was chilly and gray nonetheless. I've ridden my bike on worse days. In fact, on days like the one we had today, I like to ride along the ocean because, for one thing, the beaches are empty save for a few people who are walking their dogs, treasure-hunting(!) or simply enjoying the solitude. Plus, a day like this isn't so cold that it slows you down, but it's chilly enough to keep you moving.

Tomorrow we're supposed to have lots of wind and rain. At least then I won't be sorry I'm not on my bike.

Even though there's plenty of heat in my apartment, I wish I could use the fireplace that's in my living room. Yes, it's an attractive mantel and I've put it to good use. But it ceased to function as a fireplace long ago, when it was filled in. Even when you don't need the heat, the glow is nice on a day like this. It's the perfect accompaniment to any number of soups, hot chocolate and a few rum concotions that I know about but, of course, don't drink now.

I wonder what Charlie and Max would look like in that light. Would they still be as cuddly as they are if I had a fire going here?

I'm not having any major or even minor epiphanies about myself or anything else today. It's just one of those days for reading, writing and...I was going to say "pamper myself." But it's funny that things I used to think of as "pampering" are now part of my regimen, at least for the time being. One example is the hot baths. Even without bubbles or essential oils (only epsom salt), they are a pleasure I never could have imagined. I guess I never quite got it out of my mind that baths are for little children and grown-ups took showers. Other people, including an old roommate, insisted that I had to take baths, that I would love them. Such proclamations put my cynical mind in overdrive: It can't be all that. That, of course, was just my way of feeling superior by denying myself the opportunity to find out that something might indeed be pleasurable for me, or at least as good as someone else said it is.

Now that I think of it, it's kind of ironic that I teach. After all, if you're teaching, you expect your students to accept, at least on some level, what you say because you say it. Even if what you're teaching is rooted in the most solid empirical facts (as, of course, almost nothing in an English course is), you still expect your students to accept it because you're telling it to them.

However, on the last day of every course I teach, as students are leaving the classroom, I say, "Your class is beginning now. Go out there and learn what I've taught you."

Some people say I'm a good teacher. Others say I'm a terrific one. But I'd really like to know what students learn after they leave my classes, and if and how they use whatever I teach them. I know that much of whatever effect I have on students has to do with the kind of person I am rather than the kind of mind I have or the methods I use.

I suppose that's pretty much how I get through life. How else could I have undertaken my transition, or for that matter, freed myself from dependence on alcohol and other drugs? Lots of other people have learned the same stuff I did and went about whatever they did in the same ways I did. Some of them had minds that were more fecund, developed or beautiful than mine could ever be. And they still didn't do what they needed to do. Or they may not have had to do what I did.

I was about to say that I accomplish what I do through the power of my personality. But that's not quite accurate, either. It has more to do with my makeup than with what I make up. And, because we're made, put together, conceived--or whatever you want to call it--there are some things we simply must do, and perhaps even more important, there are particular ways we have to do them.

And now I am going to curl up with a good book and two cats. Three out of three ain't bad, right?