In the northern hemisphere, where the winters are long, and our children attend school from September to June, February can be a cruel month. Students are lethargic, parents are weary, teachers visit the liquor store.
I’ve been wondering why this is the case. What makes this time of year so debilitating? No doubt, the weather, vitamin D deficiencies, and general burnout that the September to January track meet can elicit has something to do with it. Still, does that really explain why?
I think it’s because February is the month of Failure. It’s the time in the year when we really discover if something is working or not. If you tried something new, however minor or major, you’ll know if it is turning out as you had hoped, or if it’s a wounded animal who needs to be put out of its misery. February is the test of an educator’s mettle. That relationship you were trying to build? It’s getting there, or it’s worse than ever. The initiative you were trying to spearhead? People gently hopped on the train or never even came to the station. The Twitter trend that all the eduspeakers are raving about that you really wanted to bring to fruition? The reality is staring you in the face.
On Wednesday, while walking to school with my daughter, I had the kind of personal epiphany that can only come about because of the wonders of our natural environment. I couldn’t remember the last time wet, heavy snow had fallen in such a way that every tree branch, all evergreen needles, and each whisker on your grandpa’s beard were coated in thick, wet, glistening snow. It resembled something only the White Witch from Narnia could have summoned. My daughter and I kept saying to one another, isn’t it funny how beautiful ‘bad weather’ can be?
The unusual beauty that I saw as February was fading out like one of those Neil Young guitar solos that goes a bit too long reminded me to embrace the failure. Look at it as a positive, not a degradation of your worth and purpose. You tried some things and discovered they are very, very difficult. Maybe it’s time you abandoned this idea. Perhaps you need to change track with that project. Your recognition of this is a strength, not a weakness.
Embrace, accept, and use February’s reminders of failure. March on with your head held high (I apologize profusely for that last pun; I tried with all my might to prevent it, but it overcame me).