Walking Away

Recently I read a line out of Kathy Reiche’s book, 206 Bones:

Sometimes we walk out on our lives.

I read it out of context, so I can only guess at what she meant since I don’t know the details. Yet I found it a profound statement. Enough to reflect on and put out there.

There have been a number of times I can personally attest to walking out on my own life.

For one, I quit teaching after my 16th year to start a coaching business. I had schooled in education, specifically English/speech/communications/theatre. I had many years of practice under me and became fairly good at it, yet chose to walk when I realized something else was calling me. Life as I knew it was now about to end. I wouldn’t get a regular salary, benefits, the 3-month vacation. I also wouldn’t be grading piles of papers, writing lesson plans and corralling teenagers into a form of classroom management.

Another time “life as I knew it” was replaced with something else is when I spent 8 weeks in the Catskill Mountains studying with the National Shakespeare Conservatory. A summer experience during my teaching career that changed my understanding of “education” forever. Although I earned 19 credits for the experience, since it was a professional theatre conservatory vs. an academic environment, I would not see the usual upgrade in my salary. I saw no upgrade.

That experience, one filled with professional growth, higher learning, meaningful experiences and immediate applications to how I would direct and coach others – that experience showed me the slanted ways we measure growth. It showed me the illogical thinking of value.

For years I had been advised to get my master’s degree so I could continue to increase my salary. Although I was teaching English, I didn’t want a masters degree in it. I was invited to get my masters in teaching methodology or curriculum development. I didn’t want one in those areas either. What I wanted was a masters in theatre or the performing arts. One in directing or performance. But they required a 2 year’s leave of absence which I couldn’t afford. What I could afford was a scholarship never before given to a HS teacher from the National Shakespeare Conservatory in Manhattan. And what I learned upon my return from that summer study was that although it changed the way I connected with my students and how I performed on stage, it didn’t matter to those who offer forms of recognition. It would not change my salary.

WIthin 5 years I walked away from teaching in search of a new way to live and to connect with the world around me. It’s not always good to walk away. Nor is it always easy. It is often embarrassing, or demeaning, sometimes even painful. But in these cases of my life, at these times when I was searching for more meaning and for the truth of what is important, I walked out on my life and am glad.

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On June 14th, 2010, posted in: Projecting, Self Value by