Shifting..err..Grinding Gears

English: shifting of gear from 1st gear to 2nd...

I’m just finishing taking the longest vacation in my professional life since my honeymoon in 2000: three weeks. I was reluctant to take the time off because I hate having nothing to do. I’m the type that likes to have a million tasks on my list and otherwise stay busy. The first day or two or the vacation was a bit of a challenge, because I had to downshift from 5th to 3rd gear. Then to 2nd gear. I’m not sure that I ever got into 1st gear. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then chances are you’ve probably never driven a stick shift. My children probably never will, but I remember it being mandatory learning for me before my dad would allow me to get my driver’s license.

I remember going on a trip with some friends many years ago. My co-driver assured me that he knew how to drive a stick shift, so I switched drivers with him when I became so tired that my hallucinations were frequent. Within two minutes, I remember him shifting from 2nd to 5th gear (My gear shift looked a lot like the picture here). That’s not a big deal, and I’ve done that too. The problem came a few minutes later when he shifted from 5th to 2nd gear. I remember being jolted forward in my seat, and the scream of my engine woke me up enough to take back the driving task. It was either that or prepare to replace the transmission! We arrived at our destination safely, and I think I slept for a very long time… but aside from the driving,  most of that trip has long since been relegated to memory.

As far as my vacation, I didn’t quite go from 5th to 2nd gear, but I did downshift my engine. I think the earliest I’ve woken up was 7:30, and that was only because I had to be somewhere. I’ve spent many days exercising in the unseasonably warm winter weather, shopping, and otherwise doing little “work.” However, I have also relaxed enough to expand my horizons on some very important levels and have renewed a bond that is now stronger than it ever was. I got to enjoy my children, see a few movies, dream, and breathe.

And then there’s Monday. I can hear the song “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas in which they sang about the feeling I experience now. Of course I’m eager to see my students and hear their stories of their winter break. Of course I’m ready to rejoin my role in the working world. Yes, I am refreshed in mind and renewed in soul.

But it still feels like I’m about to go from 2nd to 5th gear. Sigh.

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