Just finished my seventh year of teaching. For the math challenged out there, this means that I just finished my seventh free summer and this one has been so completely different that I feel it warrants a few comments as I get ready to head back to my classroom tomorrow morning.
So what does the typical summer look like for this teacher. Well, I start the break by still getting up at 5 am since that's what my body tells me to do. By August I've generally stretched that to 6:30 or 7:00, but no sleeping half the day away for me. Never have, doubt I ever will.
My mechanic business has expanded to the point that for most of the summer I can (and often do) work seven days a week. There are a lot of people out there looking for a reliable Harley mechanic who charges less than the $80+ per hour that the dealerships are charging. I have tried to take the weekends off, but this year, with nothing much going on in my life, found myself working through.
There is always a vacation, often with friends and always on the motorcycle. California this year, solo to Albuquerque last year, Niagara Falls a few years ago. Anywhere from a week to three depending on who is with me and where I feel like going.
So what was different about this year? Well, those of you who have been following my blog already know the answer to that question, but bear with me a little. The difference started three weeks into the summer, right at the tail end of my vacation when I crashed my Harley into the back of a Suburban on Highway 18 down in Oregon. You can read all about it here.
The rest of the summer was an education and an awakening. I actually enjoyed my week in the hospital, even with what amounted to two arms, one leg, and one abdominal muscle out of commission. I didn't have any books to read, there was little of interest on the TV (although I did get to watch the Tour de France each morning), yet I still enjoyed the down time. After I returned home I spent a significant amount of time reading, watching TV, and browsing the internet. It was a couple weeks before I could walk further than the bathroom. A month into my convalescence they decided that further surgery was needed and my hands and arms were back where we had started, with very limited ability to pick anything up, open jars and Tupperware containers, or perform simple tasks like showering or getting dressed.
Yet through it all I found that I never really got bored or frustrated. Down time has never been my strength and over the years I have had a very low boredom threshold. If I was tired or had only a couple hours to kill, I could kick back and watch some TV or read a book, but otherwise I quickly ran out of patience and had to get going. With my wife gone in the divorce four years ago and my roommate of the last two years moved to Alaska to finish his degree, there was less and less to keep me at home. Over the past year and a half I became more and more of a workaholic.
I have now spent the last two months in enforced idleness and have enjoyed it. Sometime in the next month or so I will return to a semblance of physical normalcy, but I will be making an effort to continue to relax, to unwind, and to take some time out to just enjoy life a bit more. I like both my jobs, the teaching and the mechanic work, but they are both time spent doing things for other people. Maybe now I can get back to some time spent doing something for no one but me.
Different but good.