No one asks me this, per se. but it usually raises a few eyebrows of aston-
ishment when I mention on first nights of classes that I've been teaching for that long. It seems longevity either impresses people or horrifies them. Certainly any long-term relation-
ship--whether with a person, a place, or a profession--can slip into "automatic pilot," and although this may be comfy and cozy, it isn't necessarily inspiring.
How does one stay inspired? How do I stay in love with what I do or where I live or who I embrace week after week, year after year? A line of Joni Mitchell's comes to mind:
Love is touching souls.
Touching souls inspires me. And I get to do precisely that in all my classes. Still, I'm human: over time, things can get routine, I can get lazy. But then something happens to rouse me.
Last week, that something was this note from a long-ago workshop participant, the mother of a current student, that arrived in my Facebook mailbox:
I am so grateful to you for turning [my son] on to his writing. [M]y husband said that he shared some of what he wrote tonight with him, and... felt like he was getting a glimpse of his soul. Sometimes, when we are just experiencing [our son's] erratic and difficult behaviors, we and he don't have access to this deeper place and forget how much more there is to him...I offer my deep gratitude and admiration to all who have shared their hearts and souls with me. May none of us ever lose sight of the inspiration that we are, that we can be.