The experienced teacher knows the golden rule of the first week of classes: don't wear new shoes. All year long a good teacher is on her feet and moving around her classroom. But in the first week of school, after a summer spent in relaxation (and, in my case, flip flops), there is a steep reminder curve in the form of sore feet.
This year, in my new capacity, I'm both in a classroom and all over campus to see my middle schoolers in class, in the hallways, at the curb for drop off, in the music building, at gym, in the dining commons, and out on the fields. I knew that I would be logging in some extra miles this week. So I took care to wear shoes that were broken-in. I even took advantage of the Middle School dress code's endorsement of sneakers. Even so, by Friday afternoon I had a blister on my big toe.
On Saturday morning, having slept 10 hours in my soft warm bed, I was standing in the kitchen with my first morning cup of coffee, nursing my sore toe. On the radio, came a story about wounded veterans climbing Half Dome in Yosemite. My frequent childhood visits to Yosemite ensures that I've frequently seen climbers on Half Dome. I've not tried it myself, but I have a good sense of what the climb entails. As I stood in the kitchen feeling bummed about my sore toe, I heard the story of men with disabled limbs and prosthesis legs and arms climbing Half Dome. There was even a blind climber. They climb to remind themselves of the abilities they retain and to mark the anniversary of September 11. I am in awe of the challenge of climbing Half Dome under the best of circumstances. But these veterans? Their story was flat-out amazing and inspiring.