Sometimes you show up to teach a class, and things don’t go as planned.

Sometimes you arrive, running a minute late, with a laptop and a dongle and notes and maybe even some slides. And there’s a podium, so you rush to it. You take the podium, set up, your head busy, overrun with thoughts, only to look out at their faces, and realize: oh. Oh, I see. Not today. You realize something else is needed today. You realize that today, you will go to them not as an answer, but as a question.

So you get out from behind the podium. The laptop sits, and hums, and quickly falls asleep, and you leave it behind, to be with them. You gather your legs to your chest. You rest your chin on your knees, and you sit. What is it, you say. Please tell me what it is.

But they don’t tell you. They are guarded and shy, and they don’t want to say, not at first. So you tell them where you are instead. This is me, you say. You tell them you’ve been feeling a little stuck and stifled and sad. You offer yourself to them, and they see you. They really see, and they come out to meet you where you are. They are timid and hesitant until suddenly, they are not those things anymore. Suddenly, there is a break, a moment when something shifts in the atmosphere and now: a crack in someone’s voice.

There is mention of a father’s passing, of something irrevocably broken, something lost. Of heartache. There is talk of pressure. There are parents and lovers and disappointments. There are failing grades, faltering ambitions. There is a love that has finally ended. There is a strange and heavy darkness inside the head that doesn’t ever go away.

And now, there is stillness, a rawness, and you sit close, huddled underneath these revelations as they hang, suspended in the air, a canopy of truth.

You sit underneath it together. You surrender to it, to the truth of what is.

Some days are like this.

Some days you leave aside the agenda, and you attend to the sorrow. You begin to touch the shaky heart of someone, or you let your own heart be touched. You begin to understand that you don’t have the answer, can’t offer any satisfying resolution. That all you can do is be willing to see, to notice, to open instead of close off.

You understand that sometimes all you can do, is go into the world as a question.