14 October 2013

what are you teaching the world?

On the end of our second week at Maryknoll, I'm really feeling like a student again. From studying the psychology of personalities through the Enneagram or attempting once again to get the grammatical rules regarding possessives in Swahili into my brain, I am remembering with awe how I once was able to learn. Without my mind imploding with every new idea. Yikes. Now I know why some of my friends have never left college.

it looks complicated - and it is. 

When I think of the verb "to teach," my mind instantly jumps to images of high school chemistry, with Mr. Bergantine of Centennial High School at the front of the classroom, writing formulas on the chalkboard in an attempt to get 30 seniors mildly interested in the concept of a joule. When you think of the verb "to teach," what comes to your mind? 

For most of us, the memories that come rushing back are of those from our school years, and even on into college. The physics teacher who would come in at 7am, just to go over a math problem for the umpteenth time because you still could not understand the answer and it was driving you to tears. Or the third grade teacher you had a crush on because he was tall and played basketball and was relatively normal for someone who elected to be around 8-year-olds for most of the day. Or the professor who challenged you so much that you thought you despised him because he made you feel like you wanted to rip your hair out from all of the assigned reading and the lectures that sailed over your head but then, when you took that final exam and he gave you an A and wrote, "Well done." at the end of your essay, you felt the runner's high that (allegedly) comes after running a marathon. (Note: These examples may or may not have been taken from real life.)

or sometimes you feel like this.

But long story short: Teachers are amazing, amiright? They literally change lives. And I think even those who are not biased to love school and bouquets of newly sharpened pencils and the prospect of learning will agree with that. 

I recently stumbled across this video from Soul Pancake that has been making the social media rounds, due to its applicability to the beginning of the school year. And it got me thinking about the question it asked: What are you teaching the world?


Obviously, I'm not a teacher by profession. Neither is Michael. You might not be either. But we're all teachers.

If I'm honest with myself, I kind of cringe when I think about what I'm teaching the world. Because I don't visit the coffee pot every morning with that thought on the forefront of my mind. I don't see every moment as one that is teachable, or learnable, for that matter. I get caught up in my comfortable normal routine, one that makes me feel safe and valuable, even if I'm not really doing much. Just a re-cap of a small part of my morning from the last four years is rather embarrassing. I got up. I pulled myself onto the treadmill, barely looking at my fellow gymmates. I swore when I stubbed my toe on the bathtub as I got into the shower. I grumbled about the morning commute, how NO ONE COULD DRIVE in Dallas, how I would love for everyone to just get out of my way so I could get to the office, thank you very much. I rushed to my cubicle, ignoring my coworkers in order to be successful! and get things done! in the good ol' american spirit.

what i feel like in the morning.

So what did I just teach the world? 

Sheesh. 

But there's good news! If we're lucky, we get tomorrow to wake up and try again. To teach, in an ordinary way, good things, and most often, we can act as our student as well. When I was growing up, my mom would play these ridiculously cheesy tape cassettes in our Dodge mini-van with Bible stories and songs. (You know I knew all of the lyrics by heart and sang, sang, sang in the car. I was that kid.) And I still think about and can sing one of these songs in my head (similar to a certain Bible verse) that went, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable...
And I've gotta hand it to you, Mom, those are some good concepts. Those are the things that I want to be teaching the world. It's such a good, good place but we lose ourselves in the calorie counting and Team USA and designer laptop cases and commuter traffic! along the way and forget about all of the goodness out there. 

But it's there, folks. And it's so much better to live life as a joyful and content and lighthearted and sassy and positive and seriously-that-was-so-funny-i-just-peed-my-pants kind of person. And when you live that way, added bonus: You teach the world to live that way too. 
So don't teach the world to be boring. Or lame. Teach the world to be more awesome.*

*And since you read this blog, you are certifiably a More Awesome Person. Fo' realz. 

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