It’s 4 a.m. I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep. But, I can’t. Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain. Why? Because I am stressed about my students. Really stressed.
I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.
This is what students really need to hear: first, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself. And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person.
And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be honest with you, both in what I say and how I say it? Here’s the thing: I lose sleep because of you. Every week.
Before I tell you why, you should understand the truth about school. You see, the main event of school is not academic learning. It never has been. It never will be.
And, if you find someone who is passionate in claiming that it is about academics, that person is lying to himself or herself and may genuinely believe that lie. Yes, algebra, essay writing, Spanish, the judicial process — all are important and worth knowing. But they are not the main event.
The main event is learning how to deal with the harshness of life when it gets difficult — how to overcome problems as simple as a forgotten locker combination, to obnoxious peers, to gossip, to people doubting you, to asking for help in the face of self-doubt, to pushing yourself to concentrate when a million other thoughts and temptations are fingertips away.
It is your resilience in conquering the main event — adversity that truly prepares you for life after school. Because, mark my words, school is not the most challenging time you will have in life.
You will face far greater challenges than these. Sure, you will have times more amazing than you can imagine, but you will also confront incomparable tragedy, frustration, and fear in the years to come.
But, you shouldn’t be worried about the fact that you will face great adversities. You should be worried because you’re setting yourself up to fail at overcoming them. Here’s the real reason I lose hours of sleep worrying about you: You are failing the main event of school. You are quitting. You may not think you are quitting, but you are because quitting wears many masks.
For some, you quit by throwing the day away and not even trying to write a sentence or a fraction because you think it doesn’t matter or you can’t or there’s no point. But it does.
What you write is not the main event. The fact that you do take charge of your own fear and doubt in order to write when you are challenged — that is the main event.
Some of you quit by skipping class on your free education. Being punctual to fit the mold of the classroom is not the main event of showing up. The main event is delaying your temptation and investing in your own intelligence — understanding that sometimes short-term pain creates long-term gain and that great people make sacrifices for a greater good.
For others, you quit by being rude and disrespectful to adults in the hallway who ask you to come to class. Bowing to authority is not the main event. The main event is learning how to problem solve maturely, not letting your judgement be tainted by the stains of emotion.
I see some of you quit by choosing not to take opportunities to work harder and pass a class, no matter how far down you are. The main event is not getting a number to tell you you are worthy.
The main event is pulling your crap together and making hard choices and sacrifices when things seem impossible. It is finding hope in the hopeless, courage in the chasm, guts in the grave.
What you need to see is that every time you take the easy way out, you are building a habit of quitting. And it will destroy your future and it will annihilate your happiness if you let it. Our society cares nothing for quitters.
Life will let you die alone, depressed, and poor if you can’t man or woman up enough to deal with hardship. You are either the muscle or the dirt. You either take resistance and grow stronger or blow in the wind and erode.
As long as you are in my life, I am not going to let quitting be easy for you. I am going to challenge you, confront you, push you, and coach you. You can whine. You can throw a tantrum.
You can shout and swear and stomp and cry. And the next day, guess what? I will be here waiting — smiling and patient — to give you a fresh start. Because you are worth it.
So, do yourself a favor: step up. No more excuses. No more justifications. No blaming. No quitting. Just pick your head up. Rip the cords out of your ears. Grab the frickin’ pencil and let’s do this.
— Chase Mielke
Symbiotic relationships between words and images. The words — that borrow a lot from literature, poetry, philosophy, sociology, economics, religion, and neuroscience— are written by outstanding (famous or totally unknown) authors, artists, humanitarians, scientists and change-makers of all times. The images — made under different circumstances and at diverse latitudes — are provided by Lerario Photos’ visual storytellers.
He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like aliquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale.
Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe.
And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead, but alive.
“And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, you can dip a cup into the Ocean,” Iff told Haroun, “like so,” and here he produced a little golden cup from another of his waistcoat pockets, “and you can fill it with water from a single, pure Stream of Story, like so,” as he did precisely that.
— Salman Rushdie
Once there was a tree…
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree…
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play” said the boy.
“I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time….
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy.
“I want a house to keep me warm,” he said.
“I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house ?”
” I have no house,” said the tree.
“The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a house.
Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
“Come, Boy,” she whispered,
“come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,”
said the boy.
“I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?”
“Cut down my trunk
and make a boat,” said the tree.
“Then you can sail away…
and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
…but not really.
And after a long time
the boy came back again.
“I am sorry, Boy,”
said the tree,” but I have nothing
left to give you –
My apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak
for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,”
said the tree. ” You
cannot swing on them – ”
“I am too old to swing
on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone, ” said the tree.
“You cannot climb – ”
“I am too tired to climb” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree.
“I wish that I could give you something…
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry…”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy.
“just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
“well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.
— Shel Silverstein
The journey is never over. Only travellers come to an end. But even then they can prolong their voyage in their memories, in recollections, in stories. When the traveller sat in the sand and declared: “There’s nothing more to see” he knew it wasn’t true. The end of one journey is simply the start of another.
— Jose Saramago