I believe in doing things. I am often asked the infuriating question, “Is there anything you can’t do?” There is a host of things that I can’t do; but truth be told, I was raised to do things. I am an oldest child raised to believe that I am smart, talented, and capable. I have the magic touch with children and plants. I can sew and cook, change my own oil, and play the oboe. My mother has often told me that I am everything she ever wanted to be.
When I was in high school, I watched the world. I attended peace rallies and wrote papers denouncing the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I watched the Berlin Wall come down on TV. I read and studied about the injustices of the Holocaust, Apartheid, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Tibet’s oppression, and other far away crises and exotic plights.
As I left home, I believed that I could make a mark on the world. I planned to go to Australia, study marine biology, and save the great barrier reef from ecological disaster. I ended up studying anthropology and developed a passion for Mayan studies and a desperate desire to save dying languages and document fading cultures.
I graduated with 2 small children, left the college life, and joined society. I filled my days with my children and the responsibilities of running a home. I thought that maybe someday I could still change the world. Soon I joined the ranks of PTO and soccer moms. I spent hours in meetings about school uniforms, pancake breakfasts, and fund raising. Secretly, I still dreamed of changing the world until I finally decided it was time for me to quit dreaming and do something.
I stopped thinking about discoveries I could be making in the Mayan city of Tikal, and started seeing the world I live in. There is injustice in my own neighborhood. There is poverty at our school. There is hostility and ignorance on my block. The world I dreamed of saving isn’t mine to save. My world is my family, my neighborhood, my schools, my community: my sphere of influence
I am changing my world by talking with kindergartners at their lunch table, showing a beginning band student how to hold her clarinet, presenting cubism to a class of 6th graders, and introducing my neighbors to each other. My name will never be in a scientific journal, but I am often introduced by children to their parents as, “This is the lady I told you about.”
I have the skills and the power to change my world. I have the magic touch. I am strong, intelligent, and passionate. I can love, educate, understand, explain, and unify. Not only am I everything that my mother wanted to be, I am everything I want to be. This is my world, and I am doing things.