Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end.

Sir William Shakespeare

(Spanish version here)

Today I’ve become aware of the fact that it was high time I wrote my own confinement reflections on this blog. I’d forgotten there’s a space for reflections here… It’s not the most visited section, but I consider myself privileged to have somewhere to drop my thoughts.

As Shakespeare suggests in these lines from Sonnet 60our lives do continue even though, seemingly, the world has stopped due to the confinement situation we’re living. Does that by any chance mean that we cannot change the concept of leisure time we’ve always had? I warn you that, yes, this is going to be the typical «think positive» post out of the hundreds I’m sure you’ve already come across. So you can stop reading here… please, don’t stop reading!

You know that feeling, when you’re all day from here to there, doing stuff all the time, counting minutes and seconds, and facing the end of the day with the feeling of not having spent a single minute with yourself? So you think, at the weekend I’ll have plenty of time, and then Sunday evening arrives, along with the same feeling, again, blowing on your conscience like a hammer.

I must admit that, though being a keen reader, whenever I’ve got some spare time, I go out for a walk or with friends, I do cleaning… basically dynamic things, but I’d never thought of taking up anything new or just improving skills I have.

I think I know why I’m so excited about all this. I’ve been a teacher at a highschool for only two years now, but I’ve been quite lucky to have stumbled upon really wise people. Wise enough as for me to regret many wasted moments of my life, and wise enough as to make me feel eager to learn new things and become a better teacher. The best part of this is that with the months I’ve come to realise that I need the knowledge just for what it’s worth, and not for how much I can grow professionally -though it’s essential for us, teachers, to value knowledge in itself, in order to trasmit those values to our students, and bring up as passionate students as we must be.

Well, let’s get straight to the point!!!!

Things that have changed for the better, and that I wish to keep in my life after the confinement time.

  • READING UNCOUNTABLE BOOKS AND GREAT VARIETY I used to read only in bed (a novel), and maybe some time on weekend afternoons (essays, newapaper supplements).

Now, I keep the bedtime novel -which I read much faster-, but I also read history, phylosophy and poetry -the kind of things I cannot read on on-site schooltime days, as my head is always about to explode when I finish work.

  • FREEING MY SPIRIT THROUGH WRITING For years, I used to keep a sort of diary which, don’t ask me how, one day took the shape of songs and poems which I kept on writing until I became the busiest person in the world.

As I’m reading this much, I feel the need to write again. It’s like I cannot keep everyting inside me, otherwise my head, chest, or some other part of my body could blow up. For this reason, I’ve retaken my songs and my diary, where I intend to portray everything happening during this period and the feelings I’m having, so I can read it when I’m old and remember how wonderful life actually is.  That’s why I’m writing this post too.

  • LEARNING & HAVING FUN WITH VIDEOS I’m not a TV person (actually I don’t own one), so most evenings I would watch a series on my computer during dinner.

Now, even though I spend many hours in front of a screen because of telework, I still spare some time to watch some cultural videos, or just for fun -and normally in English, so I can feel that I’m taking even more profit of my scarce and precious minutes. I’ve even signed up for Netflix, to watch documentaries and series. Yes, I’ve gone mainstream. Still a nerd.

  • GOING DEEPER IN LANGUAGE LEARNING I’m a language teacher and I venture to say that one day I considered myself a language lover. Obligations kill all passions and we are the only ones in charge of keeping the flame alive, not others, though sometimes, people may help. As a ‘profesora interina’ that I am, I still have to pass my state exams in order to get a workplace forever. That means not only studying theory, but also working on a syllabus of my own and doing practice worksheets, where a translation practice is included. Well, so we, as teachers normally recommend our students that they look up words and try to learn them in a meaningful way, but then when it comes to us, we sometimes end up using the word in that very moment and then forget it. We don’t go any further, anymore.

But that has changed now for me. Whenever I don’t know a word I try to use it in many contexts (I know that’s not new…), and I also try to trace it back to its origins and even reason why its form and use in English and compare it to my own language and even to others. And I can tell, it’s a thrilling exercise! One drawback is that it takes time, but the great benefit is that most of those words and their history are going to stay with me forever.

For more on language learning check out this post.

  • LEARNING NEW LANGUAGES A consequence of the aforementioned is that I’ve started to feel more curiosity about other languages, so I’ve decided to take up a new language and try to review the others I’d already been in touch with. I’ll say here that this is the thing I’m going to drop the soonest, or at least I’ll reduce the amount of languages, as it’s turning a bit overwhelming. But what I know for sure is that once the state exams are over -and passed- (this is a very ‘opositora’ sentence), I’m going to study one of them at least, formally .
  • IMPROVING MY MUSIC SKILLS (IF I HAPPEN TO HAVE ANY SKILLS) One of the things that, on busy periods, goes to the end of my list of preferences is my beloved guitar and the enjoyable rehearsals at home with my life and music partner. I got to forget how therapeutic music making is. I reckon that my lack of ability is quite to blame for this. But having such plenty of time and some not-knowing-what-to-do moments has led me to make up with my guitar.

Now I play every day , either alone or with my partner (you can check out my progress on this link), and as I said before, I’m writing songs again. But the best thing is that I’m opening my mind to new styles, styles that I like but which I’ve normally found too challenging. This is, along with the learning of languages, one of the learnings I find most critical for keeping brain plasticity. Not to mention the magic inherent to the musical experience it and all its added benefits. Every human should play at least one instrument, or at least listen to music in an active and conscious way.  If not, ask TED.

There are things which a priori we may feel lazy about, and one of them is learning new things, moreover if we feel ‘professionally assured’. And I’d dare to say that’s a consequence of the teaching system within which we’ve all learnt and which is still ruling the classrooms nowadays. Innovative educational techniques seek for effective learning in the classroom, with engaging activities and exercises that stimulate their brains. However, I can count on the fingers of one hand the students I’ve got to know who don’t study for their grades and the rewards associated. But what about the love for learning? Must we grow old to give it the worth it deserves? Do we happen to give it that worth ever in our lives? We must work on that. It’s our duty. It’s time to reflect.

I think it’s been a year since my last post, and it was motivated by the same things, namely, personal growth and praise for the people I meet and the experiences I live. Everything and everyone that helps me grow, in all senses. And, of course, for self-criticism. We must always look at the bright side of life.

Click here to read in Spanish.