I hope you had a good week, and things are going well for you!!!
I had a fun experience recently, I was invited to visit a high school in the States. Schools aren’t always happy memories for me—-I enjoyed my own school days, but I taught high school seniors for 3 years, in my early 20’s. I taught creative writing, and I was only five years older than my students, and it was very challenging. I looked like one of the kids, and they treated me like one. It was very embarrassing—-I could never keep order in the classroom!!! I had the most unruly classroom in the school. I think I was just too young, and barely out of school myself. I was already writing at the time I taught, since I wrote my first book at nineteen. I would write my books at night after I taught. And my teaching experience finally convinced me to write full time, and give up other jobs. (I had worked as a copywriter in advertising and as a translator before that. But writing was my passion.)
But despite my sketchy history as a teacher (I always admire teachers—-it is NOT an easy job, and a very important one), I REALLY enjoyed my high school visit recently. I was impressed by how grown up the students seemed these days, how open the teachers are with the students, and how strong the relationship is between faculty and kids. I had a strong sense of mutual respect between the adults and ‘kids’. I was particularly impressed by the values they try to instill in the students, and they focused particularly on two: Courage and Integrity. It struck me as I listened to the headmaster speak, that with those two qualities, one is armed for life. Integrity is so vital, I seek it in the people I am close to, in the people I work with, work for, and those who work for me. I look for it in my relationships, I admire it in others, and I write about it. I think integrity is one of the great virtues. And “courage” is the perfect ‘partner value’ for integrity. Because you need courage to have integrity, to do the right thing, no matter how hard the circumstances. It’s sometimes very hard to do the right thing, and you need courage to be the lone voice of integrity at times, when others don’t agree with you, or want to take a short cut into sketchy waters to get what they want. As I sat there listening, I realized what an important lesson they are teaching at that school, arming the students with two qualities which will serve them well for life. It’s a lesson we could all be reminded of, and would serve us well.
The headmaster also spoke of ‘gratitude’, which I talk and write about. Especially in hard times, gratitude is so important. It’s a good thing to be grateful every day, to stay aware of the blessings in our life. But when the going gets tough, when things aren’t going well, when we feel we’ve missed out, been treated badly, lost something we cared about, or seem to have a run of bad luck, it’s even more important to try and be grateful for one thing every day, or five things, or anything we can. (I remember at one time when everything seemed to be going wrong in my life, on one day the only thing I could think of to be grateful for were my shoes, which were new, red, and kind of cute. The rest of my life seemed like a mess!!) Gratitude turns things around, changes our perspective and reminds us that even if we’re not happy with our current situation, or life, or job, or home, or relationship, there is something to be grateful for. And usually, if you can bring yourself to be grateful, even a little bit, things start to turn around, and the way you see things changes and the situation starts to improve. I always find that gratitude is the ‘grease’ that makes life work, especially when you feel stuck in a bad place.
So my brief visit to high school turned out to be elevating for me, lifted my thought and my spirits and my attitude. What lucky kids they are to be in such an enlightened school!!! And how lucky I was to be invited for a visit. It was a great reminder of what really matters in life. And those students I visited are getting a great start in life!!
Have a great week, filled with good people, fun times, and happy surprises!!!