Once upon a time when I was a teenager my best friend at the time invited me to go camping for a week with her family. Her twin brother also had a friend go along. Their family went camping at the same lake every summer for years and years.
They were fortunate enough to have a boat as well, hence the choice of the large lake as the venue. The favorite boat related activities were fishing and water-skiing. I had never water-skied before and was anxious to try this activity since it looked like a lot of fun to skim gracefully across the surface of the water.
The first day out on the boat my friend and her twin brother took turns showing the brother's friend and me how it was done. They each strapped on the skis, leaned back in the water and waited for the boat to pull them up and out before they glided effortlessly. Then it was time for the brother's friend. He tried a couple of times and declared it was too hard. Finally, it would be my chance. I was a little nervous since the assessment of the other novice was not favorable but I was undaunted.
I slid into the water awkwardly tumbled around between the life vest and the skis as I struggled to get the skis on my feet. Once strapped together I flailed like a wounded seal trying to reach the tow rope bar. I was instructed to sit back in the water with the tips of my skis above the water line. When the boat started I was to keep leaning back and let it pull me up and out while continuing to lean as if getting ready to sit in a chair but to hold on tight. I was told the boat would do the work.
My friend's father opened up the throttle, revved the motor and took off. I popped right out of the water, stood straight up, and within a nanosecond was on my face in the water. Having failed at remaining upright I was determined to hold on tight.....as the boat continued to tear across the lake. This was the only goal in which I succeeded....to my own detriment and the great amusement of my friend's family.
Once the boat slowed to a stop and the water ran out of my ears I could hear the raucous laughter. Once the laughing ebbed my friend's father asked with incredulity, "Why didn't you let go when you fell? " I told him I didn't want to be left behind (plus, what I lack in skill, I make up for in tenacity). He roared with laughter again before assuring me they could see if I fell and they'd circle around to pick me up again, not to worry. Just let go.
I had to let go of the the rope, fear of being left behind, and the desire to be seen as competent, otherwise I'd be dragged mercilessly through the water taking a worse beating than the fall itself provided. I did not have to let go of the hope of being able to water ski. My friend's family was patient with me and coached me through dozens of more attempts before I finally found the balance needed to pop up and out of the water and stay up to enjoy the ride. I had to transfer my tenacity from a death grip on the tow line to perseverance in repeated effort and refinement of technique.
Decades later I am still a stubborn person inclined to just hold on tight through whatever difficulty comes my way and just grind through it. I know that comes as a terrible shock to all of you.
School has been incredibly frustrating since the beginning of the year. It's an urban school district. I knew that going in. Last year I worked in far less than optimal circumstances, without even an adult-sized desk in one school, in a library chunked into classrooms, managing a collection that is embarrassingly inadequate in numerous ways, for abysmal pay. I was willing to endure all that because I am passionate about libraries and getting books into the hands of kids.
I started this year knowing I'd have to reshelve 10,000 books that had been boxed while a major work project took place over the summer. I was undaunted. I have argued with administrators about the purpose of a library. I have had my meager resources pillaged for non-library purposes. I have had my only computer turn into a doorstop and I have come up with plans B, C, and D as contingencies for that situation as well as other major hindrances to accomplishing my job. I've done it without much assistance from anyone having the power to make a difference.
It's been completely frustrating. At times it's been downright infuriating. This past week there was a brief reprieve during in-service when all the other library paras came to my one school and we had some training followed by my receiving their assistance in getting some big things done that I had no free time to address. It was an encouragement to be with folks who care about libraries and understand what goes in to keeping them running. They are all facing similar challenges to those I deal with. This past week we also found out the central administration is not done yet with its plans to make life increasingly difficult for those of us working in the libraries. We were all demoralized by the news. We all know we cannot possibly do our jobs adequately with the new burdens placed upon us. Our libraries will deteriorate significantly under the new mandates.
Being the tenacious and stubborn person I am I was trying to figure out how to make it work. How to keep holding on through this rough ride. Given that my back is still fouled up I was struggling to come up with workable answers. I felt I was coming to a breaking point. Something had to give.
Then, as I wandered around a store I literally saw a sign reading:
Let Go or Be Dragged
Like being determined to waterski, I am determined to bring books and kids together. I may just need to let go of this alleged opportunity for doing so, pursue other avenues, and trust that I will have greater success in so doing. I won't leave this job until I have another but I have decided to be more active in looking now rather than waiting until the end of the school year.
I just hate that the kids I leave behind will still be dragged along by a system led by fools.