Sunday, June 9, 2013
I awake after a brief uncomfortable nap to find that the night has fallen, the plane is surrounded by darkness, and in the distance, a fantastic show has started. The lightning covers the sky, with one bolt after another, far enough away to cause no concern, but close enough to illuminate the clouds.
This South Carolina storm brings two strong memories - one of being a young teenager sitting on the porch of a friend's home in Georgia enjoying a similar storm as we talked through the night about adolescent woes. The other of sharing an amazing lightning storm in Florida with the kids a few years ago in Epcot. These images quickly juxtapose the fear and power of the electricity that falls from the sky with the wonder and awe of nature's fireworks.
Watching the show from the plane, I am keenly aware of how small I am. And how little impact I have on the grand world below me. I am on my way to attend a conference with other educators who attempt to advance innovation and creativity in learning and I am deeply reminded of my own inability to do all that I want to do in the world.
Two days later in the wee hours of the morning, surrounded by pitch blackness, I stand at the Atlantic water's edge. This time the storm has a name, Andrea. She is throwing 45 mph winds at us, and the ocean roars and churns in front of me. There is deep mist but the downpour has stopped for a minute. My bare feet burrow in the sand and I stand with my arms apart - ready to fly if I could just get caught up in this wind. Around me, a crowd of a dozen crazy colleagues run to and fro in the water - laughing, gasping, and reasoning the insanity of the moment.
I stand there, attempting to identify the shadowy figures around me, and silently wishing the lightning would return to illuminate our path for a few beautiful moments. My smallness is again apparent. But this time, I'm not alone. I'm not braving the storm or changing the world all by myself. These people, some I know well, some I've just met, and some I don't know, are out there with me.
We cannot stop the storm of change that is upon us in education, we cannot calm the sea. But we will not drown either. We will not retreat because it is windy, and scary, and unknown. We will make a difference, somehow together. We will make our own lightning and brighten the sky.