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
As you might have noticed, I was a bit silent the last weeks, working on a major redesign of my website, and a full rebranding, with a great new logo that best represents what I’m going to do with my work.
I was feeling that it was about time for a major facelift. Entirely designed and coded in-house, the updated website now has a more polished design, and provides a more consistent experience, specially when viewed on tablets and smartphones.
And, as you can see, I’ve dismissed the portfolio: now everything is structured like an old-fashioned travel diary. This way, coming out from behind a “brand” and from a pretty but impersonal commercial publication, will make easier to show who I really am and what we do at Lerario Photos.
If you’re having trouble with the site please report bugs and other technical issues you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll address the issue as soon as we can.
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
Rudy was the dog I had the pleasure of spending the past twelve years with. Last week we had to say goodbye far too early, due to an aggressive cancer that had advanced nearly symptomless until just days prior to his death.
Rudy’s life was a great example of resilience, change and beauty…
When he was only 60 days old he was thrown in a garbage can. Just before ending up in the jaws of the trash compactor truck someone heard his crying and saved him. We found him at the public kennel and we welcomed him into our family.
Since then Rudy has been the babysitter of my children, the psychologist who all turned in times of sadness, the guardian of the house, the terror of the neighborhood cats. And in recent years he has also been the caregiver of my elderly mother.
Every time I returned from my reportages around the world he was always ready to celebrate, never complaining for the long moments of my absence. He just wagged the tail and everything was ok (he has always been a tireless tail wagger… He has been wagging his tail until the last moment, when he was lying down and waiting to die on his favorite rug).
Rudy was a free dog…
He hated leashes and muzzles. His behavior was not exactly that of a good and obedient trained dog. He never brought back a fetched piece of wood or a ball. He was true to his nature, but he never betrayed anyone. And, for every single day of his life he accomplished his mission.
Rudy’s story began in a garbage can. Then it has become a great little story of resilience, change and beauty. He deserved a great finale. I buried him — wrapped in a traditional burial cloth that I brought from my last journey in Ethiopia — in a forest, near Gubbio, along one of the paths traveled by St. Francis. In that forest St. Francis met the wolf…
Perhaps this is the most famous story of St. Francis…
It tells that while Francis was staying in that town (Gubbio) he learned of a wolf so ravenous that it was not only killing and eating animals, but people, too.
The people took up arms and went in the forest after it, but those who encountered the wolf perished at its sharp teeth. Villagers became afraid to leave the city walls. Francis had pity on the people and decided to go out and meet the wolf. He was desperately warned by the people, but he insisted that God would take care of him. A brave friar and several peasants accompanied Francis outside the city gate. But soon the peasants lost heart and said they would go no farther.
Francis and his companion began to walk on. Suddenly the wolf, jaws agape, charged out of the woods at the couple. Francis made the Sign of the Cross toward it. The power of God caused the wolf to slow down and to close its mouth. Then Francis called out to the creature: “Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt anyone.”
At that moment the wolf lowered its head and lay down at St. Francis’ feet, meek as a lamb. Francis explained to the wolf that he had been terrorizing the people, killing not only animals, but humans who are made in the image of God. “Brother Wolf,” said Francis, “I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They will harm you no more and you must no longer harm them. All past crimes are to be forgiven.”
The wolf showed its assent by moving its body and nodding its head. Then to the absolute surprise of the gathering crowd, Francis asked the wolf to make a pledge. As Francis extended his hand to receive the pledge, so the wolf extended its front paw and placed it into the saint’s hand.
Then Francis commanded the wolf to follow him into town to make a peace pact with the townspeople. The wolf meekly followed St. Francis. By the time they got to the town square, everyone was there to witness the miracle.
With the wolf at his side, Francis gave the town a sermon on the wondrous and fearful love of God, calling them to repent from all their sins. Then he offered the townspeople peace, on behalf of the wolf. The townspeople promised in a loud voice to feed the wolf.
Then Francis asked the wolf if he would live in peace under those terms. He bowed his head and twisted his body in a way that convinced everyone he accepted the pact. Then once again the wolf placed its paw in Francis’ hand as a sign of the pact.
From that day on the people kept the pact they had made. The wolf lived for two years among the townspeople, going from door to door for food. It hurt no one and no one hurt it. Even the dogs did not bark at it. When the wolf finally died of old age, the people of Gubbio were sad. The wolf’s peaceful ways had been a living reminder to them of the wonders, patience, virtues and holiness of Francis. It had been a living symbol of the power of the belief in positive change.
If only he could read it, Rudy would have loved this story.
Resilience, change and beauty: these are the most used keywords in the stories we publish at Lerario Photos. Since ancient times these three words represent the lowest common denominator of all the stories that are inspiring, moving and bigger than an individual. Each of these words is important by itself but there is something mysteriously powerful that can happen when they came together inside a story.
Because we need beauty: it reminds us of our humanity and helps us to keep alive hopes and visions. But we also need to believe in positive change if we want to expend energy, stamina, and pride trying to make the best of our own lives and the lives of others. And, finally, we need resilience to preserve our individual integrity and to defend human dignity, the two most powerful instruments with which to progress both on an individual and collective level.
I have not stopped loving that which is sacred in this world — Albert Camus
The meaning of the words
Resilience (Integrity – Dignity – Endurance – Freedom). It is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience. Resilience means facing life’s difficulties with courage and patience – refusing to give up. It is the quality of character that allows a person or group of people rebound from misfortune, hardships, and traumas. Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit, a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.
Change (Exploration – Discovery – Knowledge – Innovation). Positive change comes in the most intimate and the most expansive ways. Each of us in fact, every day, engages in making the world a better place (sometimes in spite of ourselves). This section intends to be a wide-ranging invitation, an encouragement to explore both the practical and the mysterious as you expand your horizons, as you consider offering your goodwill, courage, energy, experience, sense of humor and heart to the world in new and challenging ways.
Beauty (Love – Solidarity – Compassion – Empathy – Creativity). It gives us a sense of delight and wonder, so creating beauty brings delight and wonder to the world. Though we are all different in terms of what we experience as beautiful and how we respond, those who seek to create beauty find others who appreciate their efforts. Beauty can soothe pain, comfort sorrow, distract from illness, or inspire hope and virtue in those who experience it. In these ways, it is tremendously powerful, and those who create beauty exercise this power.