Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back In Session

At some point in life, we are all a teachers.

As autumn is upon us, we are all brought back to the days of remembering that first day of going back to school. That first day of starting junior high, traveling back from summer break to college, or perhaps even the first day of kindergarten. We remember the anticipation of who would be in our class, would we get the ornery Mr. Farland or the ever loving Miss Schimtz? Would our best friends be in our class or would we be lab partners with Brock Hoffman? And what, oh what, would we wear entering those doors as an awakened human being from summer vacation?

I’ve never had children and I’ve never been in an educational field. I think I was a peer mentor in high school and I’ve trained people on a job but it wasn’t until this past summer that I started teaching.

I entered the acting class and observed the eyes that gazed upon me as though I could map out the path to their dreams and provide the concrete answer to “what will my future hold?”. There is a slight, who are we kidding, major difference between being a teacher to a class of unwilling high school wanna-be’s and obedient adults. Little did they know, as I entered that class, that I was looking for someone who could offer me the same life leading lessons and the same answer to what my future would hold.

As the weeks went on, I felt giddy with the delight as I saw them improve. They did their homework, committed to the tasks at hand, and became much more aware of their craft and what it entailed to achieve their goals. Six weeks in, however, we hit the ever-present roadblock of frustration. Everyone seemed as though they were struggling, not just with class, but with life in general; myself included. Lesson plan be damned, we had an old school, campfire pow-wow. Keep in mind it was an acting class; we're allowed to do that.

As we went around the room expressing our frustrations in life …a new job taking up our focus, a new baby taking up our nights, and the death of a parent swallowing our hearts…we came to Liz. With sympathetic eyes and a tale of being married for over 20 years, she shrugged her shoulders apologetically and said, “You know, I don't have a lot of problems. All I can say is that my life isn’t everything I hoped for….but it’s better than anything I could have imagined”.

It wasn’t a mantra or an e-greeting on facebook. It was an honest moment that answered the question of “what will my future hold?” What I had been brought there to teach, had been taught by the student. 

Life is not always about your next success, or how far you have come. It's also about what you’re able to observe and learn from those around you. School is always in session for adults. Who will your next lab partner be? Will you and your best friends always be in the same class? Will you have a good teacher or a bad one? Regardless, if you participate, your life will change. Without getting into too much "life is a journey not a destination" talk, there is something to be said for just embracing the moment. So relish in the good and embrace the pains, and look at that guy sitting next to you on the Metro. He might teach you a thing or two. That's how we grow.