There are few moments in my life that are more exciting than listening to a new record for the first time. Thanks to Spotify, I can consume new music every week. During this last week, I discovered “I Forget Where We Were,” the second album by the British songwriter Ben Howard. In the title track, Howard recalls events of the last few years before very abruptly exclaiming “But I forget where we were.” Of course, this peculiarly sudden statement prompted me to ask all of my friends, “What do you think this means?”
The truth is that I don’t know what he is referring to. Yet I thought about all the different meanings of this phrase as it applies to my own life. There are so many things that I just forget about, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
I forget what it is like to be independent. No, I don’t mean that I am constantly depending on other people (although as a first-year teacher there is a bit of this going on). What I mean is that I forget what it is like to be one single person whose actions have minimal effect on others. If I chose to not do my homework at SLU, only I received the zero. Yet if I choose to not have a lecture prepared today, I am cheating nearly one-hundred students out of a quality day of education (though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind). My entire education used to be focused on just me: how well I understood the material, the grade I received on the test, how much I participated in class. However, now I am just a vehicle for my students. The focus has shifted and, as I walk in everyday to the very same classroom in which I had English 1, I forget the mentality I used to have.
Yet I am okay with my intentional forgetfulness. In fact, I embrace it. A big aspect of this year is to connect with the whole.
Though by the same token, I often focus on the differences between my students and me. So as my sentiments parallel Howard’s, I also forget where I am: De Smet Jesuit High School, where I myself learned so much inside and outside the classroom. The reality is that my life is not very disparate from the lives of my students. There are only small differences that exist and these small differences – age, experience, or education – are really the only things that separate those who stand behind the podium and those who take a seat in front of it. In lieu of me forgetting this fact, I continually have to remind myself that I have as much to learn from them as they do from me.