Throughout my life my life I’ve had more than my share of close calls, at the conclusion of each event, I’ve always dusted myself off and chuckled at my good fortune and kept it moving. This year wasn’t any different than my previous episodes on this planet, except that my own mortality gave me the proverbial tap on the shoulder to remind me that we all are here on borrowed time.
In 2012 I had two close calls, one of them being a brush with death that really pulled everything together. For me looking at things in retrospect has tended to be the best teacher, in the past looking at things through the prism of time has tended to weight me down because I’ve constantly replayed in my mind what “could’ve have been” rather than “what will be going forward”.
Time has revealed itself to me in a multitude of ways in my travels on this planet. At this juncture in my life, I am convinced that I am seeing my life with even more clarity. As I am learning that if I lean on time more as a reference point, rather than a pool of anger for me to skip my regrets off of, that my purpose actually becomes clearer with each passing day.
The commentary from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee would have been laughable if it wasn’t so patently stupid. If you’re not privy to his take on the tragedy in Connecticut I’ll include it here for your reading pleasure:
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, and accountability?”
Call me naïve but I thought there was this novel concept of a separation of church and state. I send my child to public school for the purposes of procuring an education, not for a theology lesson. As a parent it is MY job to instill, teach, equip and steer him into his own experience with God, not the school system. Besides, isn’t that what parochial schools are for?
How would teachers be equipped to teach about issues of faith in the classroom, I would be inclined to think that common sense would dictate that they have a degree in theology as well?
And would the people who are equipped to lead in matters of faith (the clergy) be offended that the school system is moving in on their turf? Maybe I missed something but, that I thought the purpose of Sunday was for church and fellowship with God… And football, right?
There is a host of reasons to explain why this person did what he did… Mental illness for one, but not allowing prayer in school is definitely not one of them. For the sake of fairness, if there was to be prayer in school there would have to be accommodations made for the children who happen to be Muslim, Buddhist, Taoists, Hindu and etc; I’m guessing that this would mean a longer school day…
Besides, whenever I hear some politicians make reference to religion, God and the like I can’t help but to roll my eyes because if they are successful politician (I can’t help but to mumble hypocrite under my breath) the odds that they have done something that something “naughty” is extremely high and those aforementioned acts of naughtiness probably pale in comparison to anything that the average layperson has done.
One of the things that I’m proudest of as a parent has been instilling a strong sense of history in my son. A couple weeks ago we took a late night history stroll through some of the memorials in the District.
The above picture of my son looking up at the Emancipation Proclamation serves as a metaphor for so many things… The one thing that I always try to convey to my son about history is that often we try to sanitize the faults and shortcomings of historical figures and its always been my believe that this diminishes them and shortchanges the historical process in a sense.
This picture of my son looking up at the King Memorial spoke volumes to me, being the history nerd that I am, I was kicking myself that it took me nearly a year to get out to the King Memorial.
But… Better late than never. The World War I memorial is often called the forgotten memorial. As I stared at it, my son and I discussed how many movies were made about this war versus other conflicts. For the life of me I can’t understand why people prefer reality TV to history…
I have a confession to make… Admittedly, I am feeling guilty (not really) for listening to those beating the drums for the world coming to an end on December 21st, it is the contention of many people that any action that we take is all for naught, so we shouldn’t bother to expend any additional energy in the futile pursuit of personal growth, achieving goals and the like…
Strangely enough, I don’t have an impending sense of doom over the impending galactic alignment that will manifest itself in the end of days, actually I am pretty excited. The pragmatist in me is looking at the bright side of the end…. The big question that is eating away at me is if the Mayan prophecy proves to be true… That means that I don’t have to pay SallieMae back, right?
If I wake up on the 22nd and the world is still rotating on its axis with SallieMae’s still serving her in her usual role as my proverbial pimp…. I’m going to be really pissed!
The recent school shooting in Connecticut, draws attention to one of the noblest, selfless, yet underappreciated professions in our society; teachers. One would be remiss not to recall how a teacher has motivated them to push the envelope to reach plateaus that might not have been reached otherwise.
Any attempt to make sense out of the insanity that ensued in Connecticut would be a exercise in futility, it was nothing short of overwhelming to read the headlines from the massacre, after a couple of minutes I got to a point where I had to cut off the TV, but it was the selfless actions of the teachers that lost their lives in the act of putting the interests of their students before themselves that spoke volumes. It was in my opinion, nothing short of inspirational.
Considering that we have days that honor our Presidents’, Veteran’s, Mother’s, Father’s and etc; why isn’t it a day that we set aside to honor those in the teaching profession? In lieu of how people in this honorable profession are sometimes castigated (especially during the confines of labor negotiations) I think that it is an idea whose time has come.
When you step back and think about it, considering the host of seemingly inconsequential actions involving a teacher that changed the trajectory of our lives, consider the “what if’s for a moment… Teachers are essential and are often cultivators of our deepest aspirations.
We often cheat the most inspirational people in our life, simply because we opt not to share the pivotal role(s) that they’ve played in our respective lives. More often than not, it is necessary that we echo back, so that they can repeat the process with someone else, like they did with us. We are human and sometimes it is necessary for us to hear the accolades, if only to let us know that our actions aren’t in vain.
As for me, my high school English teacher Ms. Batorfalvy did that for me, In lieu of my being a disciplinary terror from the time that I was in the 5th grade until she and I crossed paths in my freshman year. She saw something redeeming in a young man that was angry at the world. I don’t think that it would be a stretch of imagination to call her heroic, because in retrospect I presented significant challenge in being likable to many teachers that had me as a student up to that point. To be totally honest, if I could violate the laws of physics and augment time and space, I would be inclined to go back and punch the young me in the face, just for being a rotten kid, but that is an entirely different story.
Admittedly Ms. Batorfalvy and I didn’t get off on the right foot, I was given the boot out of her class more times than I care to remember, endured countless trips to the Assistant Principal’s office, multiple conferences with my parents, along with a couple of suspensions tossed in for good measure. I could not for the life of me figure out why this lady was hassling me, but after the my final incident my Dad got creative and made me wash all of the walls in the house with a towel and bucket of soapy water, after that I resigned myself to doing what was asked of me.
But, it was obvious she cared, it was this concern that was the central element separating her from many of the teachers that I had up to that point… A great number of my teachers merely taught, merely because they had to, not because they cared or because they saw something in a student that the student failed to tap into.
One of my fondest memories involved an in class writing assignment that she gave; I didn’t think much of what I wrote until she gave me the grade for it…. Much to my surprise, she loved it; she kept me after class doubled over with laughter reading portions of it back to me. I wrestled my first “A” from the woman, who had been my arch-nemesis up to this point. This was the turning point in our relationship, a friendship that we have maintained to this day.
By giving me an “A” on this assignment, she triggered an epiphany that pulled me out of the academic fog that had paralyzed me since the start of my high school career . The excitement in her voice was contagious and it infected me with sense of purpose that I started building on from that point forward.
I had a quantum leap in confidence that had escaped me for the longest time. I started writing for empowerment, for clarity and purpose, by encouraging rather than browbeating me; showing concern rather than disdain; she helped me to redirect my energies into my academics rather than me continuing down the path of underachieving and eventually graduating to a becoming a menace to society.
She told me that I would I write the next great American novel and I believe that it will eventually come to fruition. It was her encouragement that lead me into journalism school after graduation, she kept in touch with even after she ceased to be my teacher, becoming my friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders .
Even after I underwent a series of financial constraints I had to sit out for a couple semesters and got distracted by the travails of life, but I eventually went back and finished, because I didn’t want to abandon the faith that she put in me and helped me to cultivate in myself. Although she didn’t shield me from an assailant, she pulled me back from an impending academic tailspin that was certain to have disastrous consequences.
I’m sure that my experience is not the exception, but I am convinced that it is the norm. Teacher’s commit acts of heroism all the time and we merely neglect to spread the word, it is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to for the realization to kick in.