Jan 182010
Authors: Anne Marie Merline

For me as an instructor, the winter break’s purpose is two-fold. The first is to cherish the students of the fall semester and to bid them adieu as they travel home and they end up in the classroom of another instructor as the spring semester starts. The second is for me to learn dozens of new names and faces as new students join me in front of the whiteboard for a new 16-week adventure.

I am always looking for new beginnings as the New Year starts. I always vow to be more organized, to respond to student e-mails in a more timely fashion and to have all that I need ready for class, all in plenty of time in advance.
This break as I sat around in my jammies, eating way too much sugar, in front of my fireplace, struggling over couch space with my eldest cat, I have been thinking about what this first column should be about.

Of course, it will be about new beginnings, but oh … how do I start my thought process? These days without the inspiration of tangible students, my thoughts come from virtual students found on my Facebook page. This time, the student is not one of my own, but a friend of one of my favorite students, Kristina.

Jordy starts my thoughts about the new year. He writes: “I love it. It’s a chance to view the world as nascent, allow yourself the chance to dust off the blackboard and make new equations, renew your mental energy and focus it on another 365 days. This one’s a new decade, and that’s a whole other level of progression. Listen to life’s music and follow it along its winding path.”

Although I have read this twice before, I did not pick up the reference of the blackboard. My life is acted out in front of a white board, low-odor white board markers and, some chemical in a spray bottle to wipe the “slate” clean. This way, I don’t go home with lots of whitish dust on my backside, like I did when I taught at Front Range Community College.

But since we are talking euphemistically, every day is a new day of learning. A clean white-board, a new topic and a time to make sense of the world we live in.

I must think, though. Although it is good to have goals to focus on: To realize one’s need for improvement and growth, I find that life is indeed a winding path. Life is like a birth plan.

For those of you that have not had the opportunity to give birth to another human being, you are asked what you want to happen as a part of the process of giving birth. You give your physician or midwife your preferences. Mine was that I’m no hero and I am not afraid of drugs.

You can have the most detailed plans, but you never know how your body and the baby will respond to the process. Any mother who begins the selfless act of parenting will say this: Do what ever is best for the child, and push my ego and my comfort aside. Birth and the life that follows leads you like floating music to a destination that is the end of the album; the end of life.

Life is a winding path through the different groves of notes, pitches and melodies and complete songs. Like listening to a new album, you need to be open to the music that comes your way. I find that when I live my life without plan and the feeling of a new freeing adventure. To me, it feels more authentic and more richly lived.
This week, take your advice from a student: “Listen to life’s music and follow it along its winding path.” Let his advice lead you to a happy new year indeed.

Anne Marie Merline is an instructor for the University Honors Program. Her column appears biweekly Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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