Back in January I wrote a blog post in which I proclaimed the need to reinvent myself so to speak. The reasons for this proclamation were many, but chief among them was the realization that I had all but abandoned writing on a regular basis. As is the case with most topics that cause discomfort, I chose to ignore the reasons for my lack of writing rather than come to terms with them. Regardless, as I was returning home from my teaching job in a former coal mining town in northern England one overcast and rather windy day, I came to conclusion that the main reason for my lack of writing was my vocation. To use a clichéd phrase, teaching high school for eleven years had sucked the life out of me.
Now, it is not my intention to waste several paragraphs moaning about the pitfalls of the teaching profession. I'll do that some other time, if the mood strikes me. For years I was able to cope with these pitfalls and establish some sort of fragile balance where I was able to shield at least some of my mental and emotional capacities from the occupational drudgeries and hazards of teaching life. But my experience working in a high school in England effectively exterminated that balance; I knew that if I continued my life as a high school teacher I would never succeed in writing anything again.
A dilemma surfaced as this dawned on me. Despite the nonsense that is part of working in public education, I knew I still enjoyed teaching itself. In addition to this, I was dumbfounded about what else I could do to make money and provide for my family. (Unfortunately, the writing has not made me financially independent as of yet.) For weeks I pondered over this problem. Then one day I noticed that the University of West Hungary’s Faculty of Forestry in Sopron was advertising a position for a native English speaking instructor.
At first I hesitated. As anyone who has read this blog or any of my work knows, I do not have a high opinion of most post-secondary institutions. Working in a citadel of darkness has never appealed to me, but I did some research and discovered that I would be working mostly with students in the science fields which tend to be a little less politically-driven and less ideologically obsessed than the liberal arts (the faculty at which my disdain is mostly aimed.) Feeling somewhat assuaged, I encountered another potential problem. Money. The position in Hungary offered a salary that was a quarter of what I was making in England. Even with the adjusted cost of living, it still was still quite small. I talked the matter over with my wife. I applied for the position the very next day.
And here I am in Sopron, a lovely and incredibly livable city in Hungary on the edge of the border with Austria working in a job that pays condirably less than I had been making before, but is infinitely more rewarding, interesting, and enlightening than high school teaching ever was. On top of that, I suddenly have time again. Time to think. Time to read. Time to imagine. I can feel the balance returning. It will all come back again. All it needed was a step in the right (write) direction.