Thursday, September 25, 2003
I love being a teacher. I think it is what I was born to do. Hurray!
Thursday, September 11, 2003
A lot of people tell me that they can't believe how much my life has changed. They always mention how quickly it seems to have changed to them. But to me, it has been quite a long process that started two years ago today. If you read my post from September 10, 2001, it is so shallow, self-absorbed and meaningless that I am embarrassed to mention it. My life then was full of nothing but bitterness and anger that I wasn't who I wanted to be. The kicker of that, though, is that I had abso-fucking-lutley no idea of what or who or even WHERE I wanted to be. I was floundering, I was lost, I was going no where but couldn't see that despite all of my friends and family and therapy who sometimes not so subtly would point out that it seemed like I was focusing on the wrong things.
Sometimes you have to be kicked in the nuts to make even the smallest of changes.
On September 11, 2001, the security, safety and permanence of my life that I had always taken for granted, NEVER questioned, NEVER doubted, was removed in less than two hours. I felt fear and panic that I have never felt and I never wish to feel again. Those feelings threw me into shock. I can only imagine what people who were right there in the immediate chaos felt and have gone through from the moment the first plane hit until this very day.
September 11th is the day that I got my personal wake up call. Whether you call it the universe, or a higher power, or simply my inner-self...something tripped a switch that set me on a path that got me to where I am today. During the last two years, everything I thought I had was taken away. My secure job with all the trimmings? A nice lay off took care of that. My savings? Though I have never had tons of money in the bank, I did have savings and a nice retirement account...I don't have those things anymore, two years of unemployment/underemployment took care of that. But in that time, I became more aware of what I wanted. The fear of trying to achieve it became a passing thought rather than the self-imposed hurdle. The fear and self-doubt shrank to such a point that I became deaf to my inner voice saying, "Sure, being a teacher is what you always wanted, but you'll never have the FILL IN THE BLANK (money, smarts, energy, ability, opportunity, creativity) to become one." I stopped listening because I literally had NOTHING to lose.
Two years after a day I wish never happened I realize that if it were not for that day, I would never have become the person that I find myself being. Happy. Proud of what I am doing. Patient. Kinder.
I am still human. I still get grumpy. I still say things I wish I hadn't. But I realize that I have learned that thing that people always try to drill into you. LIFE IS SHORT. There is no reason not to go after the things that will make your life a good one and make you a better person.
Today on September 11, 2003, I stood in front of a class of 7th and 8th graders as their teacher. I looked at them as they actually listened to me talking about 9/11 and stress and how to deal with it. I also taught them math today. The learned and could explain how Pascal's Triangle works. I didn't even know what Pascal's Triangle was until this week...and I taught it to emotionally disturbed kids, in New York City, in a classroom that once had a view of the World Trade Center.
At the end of school today, the program coordinator came up to me and told me that she was very pleased with how I was fitting in with the kids, the other teachers, and the staff. She said that I might not have a huge bag of tricks to cope with every situation but she said I was a natural teacher and that the kids were bonding with me. One of my students came out and said, "Mr. Young, can I talk to you?" He then explained that sometimes he gets stressed and it makes him angry and he feels like he doesn't know what to do with the anger. He said he had never admitted that to anyone before but he felt like he could tell me. I told him that it's okay to tell people that and he could come to me any time. He said, "Thanks."
I had an amazing day.
If it weren't for September 11, 2001, I don't think any of this would have happened for me. I honor those people who died that day. Their loss is not in vain. If I could bring them all back I would, but I can't. In my small way though, I am going to try to honor them as often as I can. Making one kid feel that there is somewhere safe and secure and someone to whom he can go and feel safe fills my heart with something I have never felt and it is a good thing.
I am a teacher. I am going to try to be the best New York City teacher I can be. Sappy, maybe. True, yes.
I am on the path that I have been searching out for so long. It is even better than I ever imagined.
That is my little tribute to the victims of IX XI.