Quitting. We’ve made it into such an ugly word, and really, the ‘throw the hands up in the air and hissing “I’m OUT!‘ version does raise the hackles. No one ever liked the kid who actually did gather up all his marbles to go home. It’s hard to cheer for the horse who balks at the gate. The coach yelling ‘quitters never win!’ may need some new motivational techniques, but he makes a point we can’t dismiss. And even the tortoise knew that ‘slow and steady’ beats the quitter. Every time.
But games are one thing. What about the other things? The high stakes?
‘Going out of Business’ Sales. Foreclosure. Divorce court. Garage sales. Bankruptcy. Dishonorable discharge. Termination of employment. Hospice care. Graveside. Estate sales.
The endings. The quittings — of livelihoods, relationships, beating hearts. The loss column bleeds red.
So, what have I gone and done?
I quit my job.
So many better ways I could say it of course: “I resigned.” “I’m going to explore other options.” “I’m thinking about writing a book.” “I decided not to go back next year.”
Oh, that last one. That’s it. But the truth remains, no matter how I label it. I quit. I am taking my teaching files, my experience, my willingness, my interest, and I am ‘going home,’ which is where I am this morning, and where I’ll be more permanently when this current school year ends.
I’ve been thinking about having a ‘going out of business’ sale. But who would buy old student work that demonstrates both ‘what to…’ and ‘what not to…’ do when it comes to the ‘show, don’t tell’ of descriptive writing? Who would bid on hanging files filled with op-ed pieces sure to spark engaging class discussions? How much could I expect to get for folders full of old study questions, vocab quizzes, essay prompts? Who would want books filled with marginalia and ‘teaching points’? Okay, I’ll admit there’s still a market for books. Even for well-used ones. Sorry. Not for sale.
(Until the estate sale. All due apologies to the progeny.)
I’ve been thinking about what my quitting says about me. After all, I’ve quit lots of jobs. Quit my high school waitressing job at the Arrowhead Lanes & Cafe to go to college. Quit my part-time retail job to student teach. Quit my full-time retail job when my better half took a better position at his job. Quit my first teaching job to stay at home with twins, and then stayed home with three wee ones until our baby went to kindergarten. Quit my second teaching job when our youngest graduated from high school. Quit working for the state when I couldn’t stand one more week traveling to schools to discuss retirement benefits. (I know. RIGHT?) Took, and eventually quit another teaching job. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve balked at the gate of another school year.
But this one is different.
This time, good friends call my ‘quitting’ by a different name. They call it ‘retirement.’ Some of us actually toasted the coming end just the other evening. We laughed. We hoo-rahed! We discussed all the ways to take vacations during times that aren’t called ‘fall break,’ ‘spring break,’ or ‘President’s Day.’ I complained about minor irritations and rejoiced over the tossing aside of every red pen that I currently own. (I’m actually pretty ecstatic about the dearth of grading student essays that will soon be my lot…)
‘Retirement’ doesn’t sit well with my soul. Isn’t meaningful work – right up until the last breath – the proper use of my hands, arthritic as they are? Don’t I still have thoughts in my head and all of the feelings in my heart?!!?! (friends who know me feel free to LOL).
I was in 4-H, as every farmer’s kid was, for cryin’ out loud! I still pledge my
…Head to clearer thinking
…Heart to greater loyalty
…Hands to greater service
…Health to better living for my ‘club, my community,’ and my country.’
I can still think. I can put a couple words on paper (even it’s more likely the virtual kind these days).
I care more about people and ideas and the things that matter most today than yesterday. God willing, the same will be true of me tomorrow, until my heart nearly bursts before it beats its last.
I have hands that can feed the hungry, tend the garden, scratch the dog’s ears. But they should do more, shouldn’t they?
Hypertension and feeble joints be damned! I’m pretty healthy for an old(er) gal! I sometimes still stay up past midnight!!
Beyond the community (local, national), I think the pledge now includes a global aspect, but I’m old school.
SEE?????? I’ve been a teacher for so long, I can’t quit the references!
But I quit. Friends. I QUIT MY JOB.
YAHOO, and pass the gravy! But, now that I’m about to be out of a job, I need to find some work. Work that matters. Because no matter how many times we quit, we need to ‘pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.’ (nothing like an old song lyric to do my writing work for me. Sigh…)
This morning, a spring breeze stirs the newly hung ferns on my front porch. The high school students I’ll see later today are busy looking ahead to prom, AP exams, and the end of another school year. They anticipate the time away from school while I am savoring the final days I’ll share with them, feeling compelled to impart the final wisdom before I leave the building for the final time. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Don’t quit. When things get hard (and they will!), persevere. When problems arrive, work together — think, discuss, challenge and cooperate — to find solutions. When the prognosis is grim, remember that this life is not all.
When you realize that you need answers to Life’s biggest, most pressing questions, Know that Truth exists. Seek. Seek Him with all of your heart. You will find. He promised.
Keep faith. Always hope. Love your people. Love them good. Love them well. Love them always. Love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It works.
Don’t quit on that. Even in the changes.