PURSUING A DREAM: NO MORE SCHOOL BELLS

DreamsI know you have dreams. Maybe, you’re pursuing and accomplishing them. Maybe you consciously gave up on them and moved on. Or maybe your dreams have fallen by the wayside because, well, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon said in Beautiful Boy.

It was the early to mid-90’s, and I was in the middle of my traveling years. This was a special time for me. You might say I found myself though I never knew I was lost.

On Columbus Day weekend, a couple of friends and I decided to rent a cottage in Lake George, NY.  We sat by the lake, fished, rented a canoe, and just hung out. We also partook in some substances.

The next morning when my head stopped spinning, I was sitting on the porch in my underwear. The rest of my clothes were wet. Don’t ask me how – I have no idea. One of my buddies – EI – and I were talking about our dreams, goals, and where we saw ourselves in the future. I forget EI’s response. Hey, it had been a crazy night. Yet, I remember what I said, “I want to have a piece of my writing published by the time I’m 30.”

I never submitted anything to a publisher.

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Goodbye Colleagues

 

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

A lame joke: What are the two best things about being a teacher?

July and August.

I don’t know who made that joke, but I would bet he or she was a burnt out teacher.

Don’t get me wrong. Every teacher I know circles the final day of the school year on their calendar either mentally or physically.

I certainly am guilty of this though I can just see my mom wagging her finger in front of me saying stop rushing the time away.

Despite this warning, I was counting up the school days in September anxious to get to 180. I said it was in solidarity with my nephew who was anxious to complete his senior year (he graduated the other day – congratulations DS), but it was not 100% true. I wanted summer and freedom. Well, I lost count around day 30.  I restarted when there were 30 days left.

Yesterday was the last day of regular instruction for my students.

And I felt a tinge of sadness and nostalgia when I said goodbye to my seniors (not so much with the sophomores). I always feel this to an extent but yesterday was more so. I took a picture with them, made a farewell speech, and they clapped.

Maybe, the nostalgia was due to having the entire class (save for two changes) since September where normally we switch up at the end of January. We bonded. Maybe, it was the trip a bunch of us took a few weeks ago to see the Jackie Robinson biopic (http://larrydbernstein.com/a-real-hero/).

Yes, it’s natural to bond with the students and that is a quality of a good teacher. However, I don’t want to feel too connected. Don’t scratch your heads. Let me explain.

You all have colleagues whom you see on a regular basis. Well sometimes those colleagues enter a different realm.  He/she becomes someone you have lunch with or you talk about last night’s game or laugh about a movie you both saw. This someone is no longer merely a colleague but is a friend.

My students are my colleagues.  I see them every day. We talk, laugh, and learn (I hope).  Yet, I cannot be friends with them – that is inappropriate and a bit odd. I certainly care about them and wish them well.

During my first year of teaching, I was consumed with the profession. I would talk about my challenges and the students all the time. Every conversation came around to teaching. It was consuming. I realized then, with the help of some more veteran colleagues and friends who were in the profession, that if I wanted to stay in the job, I would have to allow myself some distance.

It was sage advice. Each year I have gotten better at separating life and work. This separation makes me a better teacher, father, and husband. I still think about the students and lessons but now, I am not consumed by the thought of work.

It’s not always easy. I remember my 5th year of teaching. The first class I worked with as freshmen (and taught many of them in their later years) were no longer in the building. I was walking the halls and looking for Nicole, Wesley, Diana, etc. even though they had graduated the past June. It was a tough transition.

So, I miss my students. I wish them well as they move on. Next year, I will have a whole new set of colleagues. Bring them on. First, I will enjoy July and August.

Courtesy of Google

Courtesy of Google

Superpower

One question that rattles around my brain on occasion – particularly after watching Superhero movies – is what superpower I would like to have. Now, I am sure we all have our (it’s not just a boy thing – is it?) superheroes. I am a Batman person myself (LOVED The Dark Night).  Anyway, it would be nice to have his powers – capabilities would be more accurate. However, the ability I would choose is brilliance!

This question always makes for a good conversation with my classes – particularly the freshmen. They come up with all kinds of answers and always seemed surprise when I reveal what superpower I would like. They very well may be thinking that is such a teacher answer. Yet for my wish, I can’t imagine wanting anything else.

I would like to think that this wish says that I respect intelligence and knowledge. As a matter of fact, I respect and admire knowledge and those who are very intelligent. I enjoy being in their company and hearing what they have to say.

On occasion, my mom will say it is not good to be so smart. And no, she is not saying that when I am being sarcastic. She believes many brilliant people are not as happy.  They lack people skills or are perpetually caught up in deep thought. While this is not an uncommon perception, there does not seem to be any clear proof that brilliant people are, on the whole, less happy than ‘normal’ people. At least, that is what my brief Google search has told me. See, I wouldn’t know. I am not brilliant.

I am an intensely curious person and read a lot. What would it be like to remember all I read and be able to satiate that curiosity? How would my like be different? Truthfully, I don’t know

I don’t know if my life would be better if I were brilliant. However, I am willing to take that chance. As they say, knowledge is power. So, maybe I am simply power hungry.

Imagine if you could learn things easily and remember things readily. Am I the only one who saw the move Limitless and thought that I would take that pill? Look at the way the protagonist, Eddie, was able to use his gift of awesome intelligence to accomplish great things.  By the way, I once read that we only use a small percentage of our brains whereas Einstein used just a bit more and look what he was able to accomplish.

You have thought about this question before, right? So, what superpower would you choose to have?  I am going to ask my wife and children. I wonder what they will say.