As the grotesque mass of space garbage we call 2016 hurtles toward oblivion, people everywhere are cheering the prospect of a new year. Myself included. We’ve proclaimed this the worst year ever, what with a most bizarre election cycle, the deaths of numerous beloved celebrities, raging wildfires and natural disasters, and the opening of the first seal of the Apocalypse.
I can’t believe I’ve been blogging every day for four straight weeks now. Like. What? How have I even done this? How have I actually trained myself to sit down for an hour or two every day and simply say whatever came to mind without ever going back and changing what just erupted from my ten finger volcanoes?
I used to think I had nothing to say anymore. Or that I’d said all I could. About traveling. About wandering. About faith and sexuality and friendship and purpose and hope and wholeness.
I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll probably say it time and time again: God bless Panera Bread. It’s a microcosm of society. From coast to coast, I’ve seen Christians unite at Panera after church and homeless people sit by the fireplace and little old ladies knitting and playing Scrabble. I’ve also seen students of all ages working with tutors of all ages over coffee and danishes and textbooks, a grouping of which I’ve proudly participated.
I’ve also seen moms and dads bring their little ones to Panera, the kids ogling the pastries in the window at eye-level, pointing and shouting at this one and that one until the parents give in and carry a plate of doughy goodness to their table.
“Weekend Tom” returned to “Weekday Tom” at school today. One kid struggled with recursive sequences. Another kept falling asleep learning about dear sweet Pythagoras and his most beloved theorem. Yet another needed my step-by-step guidance, only to fizzle out of patience by hour’s end.
It wasn’t the flashiest of mornings. No inspirational artist studio visits or personal hand at graffiti art. Just a job and a desk and formulas and lingering frustrations that one day life will feel epic again. It doesn’t today. But one day soon, it will.
Last week was among my hardest weeks in many weeks. I’d said goodbye to two fantastic Couchsurfing guests, and I endured yet another week of training and work prep as my new organization continues to pass inspections and certifications and acquire total clearance for student admission. Even then, we will acquire students one at a time until we eventually hit our max capacity of 29.
It will take more than a while to get to 29.
I’ve always been a huge Survivor fan. Though my fanfare has waned in recent years, the grandfatherly reality show remains compelling to me.
This current season has pitted a tribe of “white collar” people against a tribe of “blue collars” against a tribe of so-called “no collars.” We can all envision the suited white collar person indoors and the grimy blue collar person sweating outside.