This I Believe

Tracy - Indio, California
Entered on March 29, 2007

I believe in living your life with passion.

We may not always see passion materialize before us, but I believe it’s there. It’s our job to find it. Some people find passion in their jobs; for others it’s a hobby, and for others it might be something all together different. With the harried pace of life, how can we find time to think about our passion? I am not sure how to answer that question, but I think that if we take the time to think about what moves us, maybe we can take a step toward living a happier life.

I have a front row seat to passion in my first grade classroom. Not only do I have passion for my profession, I see passion in the eyes of my students when I see them experience so many things for the first time. And, trust me when I say an elementary school was the last place I thought I would learn about the way the world works.

Since childhood, I’ve been inspired by my parents to positively affect change in the world. I worked as a legislative staffer to many politicians. A staffer’s job isn’t a job: it’s your life. In a 24 hour a day, 7 day-a-week news cycle, you live and breathe on behalf of your elected official. It’s what I had wanted my whole life, and I had it.

But one day, after months of sleepless nights I left that life. I didn’t have passion. I wasn’t experiencing anything for the first time. I was jaded. So, I took a leap of faith; quit my job and went back to school to go after something I never saw thought I would get the chance to do. I decided to become an elementary school teacher because it’s what I had always wanted to be. Making a decision is easy. Living with the consequences is hard. My parents questioned my sanity, my friends belittled me and my marriage crumbled. But, the chance to be around kids who see the world with all its’ possibilities was intoxicating. And, I’ve never looked back.

On an average day, I might get asked strange questions like, “Were you alive when there were dinosaurs?” or,

“Do you have eyes hidden in your hair?” or, my personal favorite:

“Teacher, what’s that dark stuff under your eyes?”

Kids are frank. They are sometimes a little too candid, but for the most part, my students never mean to hurt anyone with their straightforward questions.

Kids are passionate. I get a lot of my energy and ideas about the world through them. They look at everything through the prism of possibility. They make up for their lack of experience with their passion for moment at hand. Whenever I need an extra dose of passion, I just look to my student, Daniel.

Daniel is an exceptional student and an inspiration for living with passion. He says all the time, “I think I want to try this or that a new way”. For example, during an otherwise easy Valentine’s art lesson he piped up with, “Teacher, I came up with this amazing new way to make hearts. I am going to present them in a whole new way!”

“Wow!” I told him, “I’m so glad you are excited about your work!” But, in my mind I thought, “Can you imagine being that excited about your work?” Daniel is. And so am I.

Kids are exasperating. Living my passion isn’t always a day filled with rainbows and ice cream. I’ve wanted more than once to run out the door and never come back. Yet, during winter break, I wonder how they are, and I miss them. I love what I do even when I hate it sometimes.

My passion puts me in some unique situations. I get to help kids learn to like math when they’ve always hated it, read for fun, and say they’re sorry when they are unkind. I feel blessed to have this kind of opportunity to positively affect change in the world, just like my mom and dad encouraged me.

We have such a short time to make something out of our lives. For my part, I intend to live my life like Daniel lives his: with passion and excitement for each new thing we have yet to discover.