The Pulse of Care and Affection
As I sit at the airport in Ho Chi Minh waiting for my flight back to Taipei, my dear friend Nicki posts a Facebook memory to my timeline, it is the COETAIL blog post that I wrote right after returning from my first Learning2 conference back in 2014. Nicki and I were in the middle of our COETAIL journey together (Yay Online2 Cohort!) and I was very excited that Learning2 had provided a platform for me to meet so many of the people I had interacted with through the courses. I remember being in awe of Nicki at the time, she was and is, doing such wonderful work in her classroom. It was so apparent to me why she had been invited to be one of the Learning2 Leaders that year and lucky me, I was smart enough to have chosen to be in her extended session too! That year, we connected not just on a nerdy level, but a friendship began that I now treasure.
The pulse that is slow and steady, yet also strong enough that it allows you to begin to feel the beat of your heart against the cage of your chest, that is the pulse for the people I hold close to my heart. Nicki is one of those people.
The Pulse of Random Grinning
Watching Nicki up on the stage delivering her L2 Talk back in 2014 alongside all the other L2 leaders was invigorating. They all had their own messages, and they all spoke to me as an educator in different ways. I think that anyone who has walked away from an L2 conference will understand the rush of excitement that comes from the long list of possibilities you might try in your practice upon your return home. The following year in Manila, the same feeling filled me to the brim, so when I was looking ahead toward this year’s conference in Ho Chi Minh, I was already anticipating the thrilling rush that is Learning2.
Perhaps you might recognize this pulse, it’s the one the high schooler gets when they think about their crush, or when you smell your favorite dish being prepared in the kitchen. It is the pulse that speeds up a just a notch and leaves you feeling energized, perhaps even causing random grinning in the process. This is the pulse reserved for moments in time that excite, invigorate, and inspire me. I was right, all throughout this year’s Learning2 conference, you probably could have spotted me walking down the halls grinning at nothing or no one in particular (hehe).
The F1 Pulse
This Learning2 experience was different than any other for me because this time I was invited to be one of the Learning2 Leaders. This not only entailed that I run a 3 hour extended session, but for the first time ever, I would be giving a five minute TED-style talk in front of majority of the participants. I wasn’t too worried about the extended session as I had run workshops before, but it was the Learning2 Talk that was causing my pulse to speed up and send blood rushing through my blood vessels like a Formula 1 race car. I think that all of us can recall a time that our hearts were beating so hard it was as though those standing around us could hear it pounding! I’ve felt this on many occasions, the moments leading up to my L2 Talk brought this pulse forward many times. Right before I walked on stage was probably when I felt it most. But, once I got up there, said my first few words, my pulse slowed down. Not fully, but just enough to allow me to deliver my talk and breathe as well! Now being on the other end of that experience, I am so glad I did it.
The Quickstep Pulse
I love watching ballroom and latin dance, the quickstep in particular is quite an amazing one not just because of the grace and agility involved, but also the fact that it is danced to 200-208 beats per minute. Now, the dancers don’t just take one step per beat, but often also step on the half-beat, which means dancers can be taking 300 steps or more per minute! They are not consistent or balanced steps either, the quickstep is characterized by quick and slow steps, and has evolved into a number of pattern combinations such as “quick-and-quick-and-quick, quick, slow”. These involves not just steps, but also hops, jumps, and even runs within these combinations.
Now imagine your pulse following those complex pattern combinations that are danced in the quickstep, that was a pulse that I did not expect to feel during this conference, but it hit me, and it hit pretty hard too. All of my presentation experiences in the past have been positive ones, sure I occasionally walked away wondering if everyone understood what I was trying to communicate, but other than that, its all been great. During this year’s Learning2, I had an experience that threw me into a spiral of questioning and self-doubt, wondering if what I had to share had any value to it whatsoever. I went through waves of disappointment, sadness, anger, hysterical laughter, and finally stillness. This is the first time that ever experienced the quickstep pulse, but it probably won’t be the last. What I’ve learned from this experience is that this pulse will take you on a journey, albeit one that mimics a roller coaster ride, but a journey nonetheless. One that brings you out on the other end feeling stronger for having survived.
If it wasn’t for my extremely supportive L2 colleagues, I may still have been in the depths of this pulse right now. Luckily, Learning2 is a community that not only provides guidance, but is also a nurturing one. The people around me during this time helped me to run through the course of my quickstep pulse and come out the other side much faster than I could have done on my own. I thank all of them for being a part of the group that guided me through it!
The Many Pulses that Make Me
I’ve realized that my pulse is often an indicator of what state I am in and who I am in that moment in time. There is no doubt that I will encounter many more pulses as I move forward through life, but at any one point we all have a certain beat, a particular rhythm that carries us through the seconds and minutes. Reflecting on my own pulses has uncovered my own realities, while helping me to realize that in a way we actually do “march to our own beat”. We may come together and have beats that compliment each other, creating a strong rhythm that builds a connection for long or short periods of time. Or we may encounter those whose pulses are so conflicting or incompatible to the one we currently have that you walk away with a giant headache! My hope is that as an educator, I at least strive to work out the pulses of my students each time they walk into my room, so that by the end of each class, we have created our own unique beat together. Thank you to everyone at Learning2 for the experience, and I hope I have the privilege of meeting and collaborating with each of you again soon.