A Little Shaky Sometimes

My favorite musical growing up was Fiddler on the Roof.  I first saw it when I was about 8 years old in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, at the Northern Lights Theater.  I was fascinated by the Jewish religion and culture portrayed in the musical as it was completely foreign to my experiences as a young person from a rural Wisconsin town that was largely Protestant and Catholic.  In one scene, Teyve, the poor farmer and father of 5 daughters feigns a nightmare in order to trick his wife, Golde, into letting one of their daughters marry the tailor rather than the butcher.  As a child, this  “dream scene” terrified me!

The show came around to the Northern Lights Theater again when I was 16 and I saw it with new eyes.  This time the flying ghosts were more entertaining, humorous even.  I understood the impetus for the dream scene –it can be terrifying to broach tradition.  Tevye needed help from the spirit world to convince his wife this was the right thing to do!

Fast-forward 25 years (yikes!) and my kids and I were playing around on our shed roof, getting a new perspective on our backyard I couldn’t help myself but think of the song, “Tradition.”

Who day and night, must scramble for a living, feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers….

Who does Mama teach to mend and tend and fix…preparing her to marry whoever Papa picks?

Tradition!  Tradition! 

I have followed traditions in many aspects of my life.  Career-wise, my mom was a teacher, an older brother was a teacher, I became a teacher.  Also, I was fortunate enough to have had many inspiring teachers over my lifetime.  Why wouldn’t I want to follow in their footsteps?  By the same token, I’ve often reveled in doing things a little differently, rather than traditionally.  While I enjoy cooking and sewing, I also know how to mix and pour concrete, tape & mud gypsum board and use a wide variety of hand and power tools pretty proficiently.

For nearly 20 years, I have been a classroom teacher.  I’ve taught children ages 6 through 18, in public and private settings, both in the US and abroad.  Several summers were spent earning a Master’s in Education.  Yet this spring, I felt a a strong pull to do something else and resigned from my full-time teaching job.  Yikes! What will this Wetzel do next?  Stay tuned, folks!  I have a feeling I will no longer be following a traditional path but forging one of my own.

As always, I’m curious:  Why did you follow your chosen career path?  Did you follow in someone else’s footsteps or go off the beaten track? Have you seen Fiddler on the Roof? What were your impressions?