A striking dream has changed the course of my life. I dreamed a dream of a future outside of the traditional classroom.
It was a vivid dream: I was returning to the classrooms where I had taught at UC Davis when I was in graduate school, but it was no longer easy for me to get to what I had previously breezed through without knowing it. As I rushed to the first day of school with a syllabus cobbled together to teach a Spanish class, I noticed that a cliff had emerged from between myself and the classroom towards which I was headed — and it became very clear that I would not be able to get back into those classrooms as I was meters below my destination and the cliff was vertical that blocked me from my destination. On the solid ground above the cliff face stood the academic building I thought had been my destination.
But that time in my life had passed. The writing was on the wall. Nevertheless I kept trying to get back up there and into the daily grind. On and on, I tried to climb the cliff to make it to the first day of school on time. It was a painstaking process that became more and more difficult the more I forced it. The further I went the harder it became. Meanwhile, others flew past me as they reached for the top of the cliff effortlessly and passed onto the grassy knoll that stretched out in front of the campus buildings. They proceeded inside from there. I continued to exert myself, telling myself to go further, to return to the knoll and get to class from there… to no end.
Then there was a shift. I saw my predicament anew. I failed to see the point of my efforts in the traditional classroom. It was no longer my gift. And right then, as if I had just needed to acknowledge it to myself, a path opened up for me from within the cliff face. I was to continue to teach, but now a different subject – depth, life, richness of books, writing and art. Spirituality. Language with the love of sound falling on sound and feeling rushing into feeling. Not content, but how to approach learning, matters of the soul, and the process of raw reflection.