You know how a piece of pottery can look solid and strong, and yet be covered in tiny cracks all over its surface? When you first look at it, sitting on the mantle, it looks sturdy and solid. You think that it can hold your fresh picked tulips without a problem.
But as you reach to take it down, to fill it with cool water and beautiful blossoms, your ring hits it. Just a tiny tap, one you barely feel, and the vase shatters into a million little pieces at your feet.
All day yesterday, I was that vase. Sturdy and secure at first glance, but ready to shatter nonetheless.
Perhaps it had something to do with the week of constant rain and fog. Few things are more demoralizing than a cold, wet May. Maybe it was the after-effects of administering all those damn standardized tests to those poor kids, or the panic in the school when one answer sheet was thought to have been misplaced for a few minutes.
It might be the sadness that I feel about the upcoming retirement of my long time friend and constant work ally. Or my awareness that this school year is waning, and soon I’ll have to say good bye to these children that I have come to love so much.
Maybe it was the poor night’s sleep, the endless pile of paperwork on my desk, the steady stream of requests to do just one more thing before going home, the failure of key technology when I needed it to teach a lesson, or the headache that just wouldn’t loosen its grip.
I don’t know.
All I can tell you is that all day long I was that deceptively solid piece of pottery, fearing the one little tap that would send me smashing into a cascade of sparkling shards.
I held on tight, with both fists, to my dwindling self control until at last the day was over.
When I got home, Paul asked me how I was feeling. For a minute I couldn’t find the right word. Frustrated? Sad? Tired? All of the above, and more.
“Fragile”, I finally answered, heading straight to bed.