Most children live incredibly structured lives. Even if a kid’s home life is in disarray, structure can be found in school. After preschool, there is kindergarten. After kindergarten, there are all the other elementary grades. After all those elementary grades, there is middle school. After middle school, there’s high school. After high school, for many people, there’s college. The next step is usually known.
After that is where it starts to get dicey. Contemporary children are living increasingly structured lives and facing an increasingly unstructured world when they become adults. Many struggle to navigate the transition. All eventually come to realize that life is full of unexpected changes, and that our own plans for our lives are often too big, too small, or just not right when compared to our ultimate destinies.
I can now add myself to their ranks. In my life, I always knew what the next step was. Leaving college, it’s easy to see why I was attracted to a program like MTR. If I joined, I’d know exactly what I was doing for the next four, maybe even forty, years- I’d be living out my life dream of being a teacher in a high-need school, in the really cool and awesome city that is Memphis.
As the earlier posts to this blog reveal, I had every intention of doing just that, and with MTR. But, life is messy, and complicated. This blog is not the appropriate place to get into specifics (but I’d be happy to share them with you personally, if you want to know), but for various reasons my time with MTR ended with my graduation two days ago.
As hard as the process leading up to this decision has been, I know that it is the right move and I feel a sense of peace about it. While I have learned much this year and believe that my time in Memphis has not been wasted, sometimes it is just time to move on.
Later this week, I will be moving back to Western New York and facing an uncertain future from there. Maybe I’ll road trip this summer, and maybe I won’t; maybe I’ll teach next year, and maybe I won’t; maybe my new destiny is teaching at an independent school or going the PhD-and-try-to-find-a-job-in-academia route, as so many have encouraged me to do. Or, maybe not. For the first significant time in my life, I don’t know what is going to come next.
I don’t know.
What a beautiful and terrifying sentence that is! I’ve never faced this much uncertainty before and, I have to admit, it’s kind of exciting, not having to live within a pre-ordained structure and plan. A literal world of options awaits me! The thought is at once freeing and overwhelming.
Out of this bittersweet transition comes what I recognize now to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The seemingly inconsequential choices I make now could determine how the rest of my life pans out. Right now, the only thing I really feel like a “master” at is being a student- which could turn out well if I do end up pursuing that PhD path. I’m not at a point where I’m able to enter into that completely wholeheartedly, though, and I need a break from school in any case. And in everything else…I’m still an enthusiastic amateur. I’m an enthusiastic amateur pianist and composer. I’m an enthusiastic amateur writer and aspiring novelist. I’m an enthusiastic amateur teacher. There are various other things I enjoy a little. There are many things I have still to learn and explore and discover.
I pray that I would make the right choices and use my time well.
I envision the next several years of my life being filled with a lot of uncertainty and hopefully a lot of adventures. There will be a lot of challenges, and hopefully some triumphs. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do much learning, living, laughing, and loving- wherever I am and whatever I am doing.
Whatever I am doing in this next, unexpected but right, season of my life, it will not be chronicled here. There is no reason for me to keep up a blog called “Mateo in Memphis” when I’m no longer living in Memphis. When it comes time to publicly chronicle some more of my adventures, I’ll let you all know.
To anyone out there who might be reading this- thank you for following my year. Thank you for your love and your support and your encouragement, even and especially during the darker, harder times. Thank you for giving me a place other than Twitter and Facebook to flesh out my thoughts and this year’s adventures. I appreciate and love you all. Memphians, I’ll miss you but you will still be in my heart and the relationships we have developed will continue. Californians, I hope to make it home soon. Northerners, I’m excited about returning to your part of the world and seeing you all very, very soon.
I wish I had a more profound way to end this blog post, but I can’t think of any, so…for now, Tilford out.
Peace, love, and history. :)