My fastest 5K ever came on the first meet of my high school career. I ran for two more years and never got faster–but in fact more sick, as symptoms of my Hashimoto’s began to surface.
I made the most money my first year teaching in Memphis. It doesn’t look like I’ll make close to that anytime soon.
These two facts have made me ask important questions lately:
- What does it mean to live a simple life?
- What have I gained in giving up power and prestige?
- How has my life’s course been redirected?
I now see the world from a different lens, than I did even a few years ago. I’m more observant of human struggle, more likely to seek solidarity among the weak, with those who have a powerful voice, but that voice is culturally silenced. I’ve learned that the powerful only have one view of the world-and they try to perpetuate that view as correct, rather than simply as one view.
The weak and the vulnerable have an entirely different view of the world. And theirs’ is the view I wish to know. The one I hope to emulate.
Credentials do not mean that much to me now. I gave up the much edgier world of urban education where I wrongly believed that these kids needed me. I now spend many hours in a cubicle without windows working with children one-on-one helping them to read. It’s not a glamorous job, yet its a beautiful way to spend my days. There’s a simplicity about my life now that I crave more and more of.
I’m free to speak softly to my students.
I’m free to look at them with tears streaming down their face and say, “You’re doing a good job.”
I’m free to see elementary students who struggle as having immense strength and courage.
I’m free to tell parents who wonder if they’ve failed their children that “You have done nothing wrong.”
I more readily believe that these one-on-one interactions are changing me. Yes, I help students learn to read, and help encourage their potential and I encounter students who encourage me to be brave and to embrace my limitations.
Ironically in learning to accept my descent downward, I have found my voice. I hear it growing louder and louder, even as I live simpler and simpler. I desire to heal, not to be entertained. I desire to be an active participant in my own life, not wish that I was living someone else’s.
Some people ask me if I run anymore. I don’t. Somedays I wish I still could, but I can’t make it more than a quarter mile. Some days I care, but most days I don’t. I entered a yoga studio last weekend for the first time in over a year, and I felt at home. I was spoken to gently, and the movements were nurturing to my body. I listened to my breath, rather than racing to see if I could win.
I now have the margin to pay attention and to enjoy my life and those around me. This is the greatest gift.