It’s an unusually rainy day in Miami. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s that I’m contemplating the meaning of life, but another poem popped up in my own, personal Mental News Feed. It might be a little depressing, compared to my usually chipper mood, but introspection is necessary in this world. How else would we be certain that the path on which we travel is the right one for us and whether our expectations are realistic?
I fear that none of this
Not the home
which I adore,
not the dreams
I hold most dear
not the fire
in my heart.
a cross that weighs
on my back.
The dreams threaten
to become a fading mist
of lead pellets instead
The burning fire
may grow dim
in the shadow
of a looming cloud
of perpetual rain.
left to wonder as to
The answer, I know, will only be found in a leap of faith.
As I wrap up the semester at MDC, I look over the names of students who started out doing well and continued through to the end. I look over students who started out poorly and learned to improve their work in my class.
Then I see the others, the ones who let someone or something pull them from their focus on this class they believed they needed to make their dreams come true. I’m not saying ENC 1101 or ENC 1102 are necessary for those student to live their dreams. Far from it. What I’m seeing, though, is students who thought this is what they wanted but, some time during the semester, decided something else was more important. Sometimes it’s family issues, children, parents, grandparents … I’m not talking about that. Family issues are personal and nothing to be judged. What I’m concerned about is something else.
There’s the students with two or three jobs that won’t allow them to attend class or do their homework.
There’s the employers who schedule you despite the fact they know about your school schedule.
There’s the employers who beg for help because one coworker or another is slacking and you’re the only one who can help. Sure, that makes you feel good about yourself, like you’re appreciated, but, many times, it’s an employer ruse, a lie to keep you working loyally.
Let me tell you something I’ve learned over years of working in a variety of jobs: No one will give you the benefit of the doubt if you need a degree to attain that promotion. They will forget that they, themselves, (the employers) are the reason you do not have a degree.
You need to speak out for yourself.
I tell you this because you need to decide what is more important, a good education or a job you enjoy. If you enjoy your job and they don’t care if you have a degree, then accept your life and don’t feel bad about the choice you make. You will probably lead a very happy life.
If, however, your employer needs you to have a degree but refuses to work with you, then that contradicts their ultimate goal and you’ll get left by the side of the road when they decide on promotions and pink slips.
There used to be a time when employers prided themselves on creating a family in the workplace. They supported the employees and took care of them whenever they could in order to keep the work family happy. That rarely happens now.
I’m not trying to be preachy. I just don’t want you to be taken advantage of like it has happened to those I love time and time again.
Above all else, I want you to understand what you really want out of life, and, once you do, I want you to believe it can happen for you, because it can if you allow it. There’s a long life ahead of you, make it your own, follow your dreams, not someone else’s. And, like a good man once said, don’t let the assholes bring you down!
Reading through a past blog of mine, I found this post concerning my own Personal Legend.
Paul Coelho, in THE ALCHEMIST, summarizes what most of us know, but few accept — we were put on this Earth for a reason. We each have our own paths to travel to reach our goal. When I first published the post below, I was in a different place than I am today. My dreams were different, I realize now; what made me happy seems mostly trivial now (although my love for my boys will never dim.)
Although my definition of happiness has now changed, my dogged perseverance continues.
The lessons I learned from Coelho settled into my soul like helium into a Mylar balloon, expanding until the silver balloon was too strong. As children, our dreams are grand, but they’re brought down to more “reasonable” levels like a balloon tied to a bedpost. That’s not the only stumbling block along the journey. Like that same balloon, we are lashed away from our dreams when we fear change, be it for fear of losing the ones we love or for the fear that we are not worthy of reaching the next level along our journey.
I’ve changed, and sometimes I am saddened by the losses. Then I remember the joy in my soul as I continue on this journey my soul set out for me at birth.
A former writing teacher gave me this nugget once. Sometimes, my memory forgets, but, apparently, my soul didn’t. To paraphrase, she said “Jump and build your wings on the way down.” I hadn’t realized how deeply my soul would accept this idea. Now, three years later, I am in free fall.
Into my backpack, I have placed the lessons from the past that weigh the least and yet are worth the most. Among others, Love, forgiveness, acceptance, knowledge and the quest thereof, and the strength to make it through the doubts and tears that sometimes cloud my journey.
And that balloon is flying free now.
I hope your free fall is as joyously life-changing as it is for me.
My Personal Legend. According to Paul Coelho’s THE ALCHEMIST, it is the thing I live my life to accomplish. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” the Old King tells Santiago. But as I studied that book and Antoine de St. Exupery’s THE LITTLE PRINCE (a book that should be taught in a companion unit), I realized something. What you experience on the journey to your Personal Legend is sometimes more important than the legend itself.
Okay. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been working to become a published novelist for over a decade. When everything seems to be looking up, that mythical gold ring on the carousel of life eludes me. With the perseverance that came when I realized I had discovered my Personal Legend, I brush off the disappointment and keep moving forward.
What I missed, though, was the fact that I am happy. As I travel the sands of this desert searching for my treasure chest of Spanish doubloons, I have found the soul mate who makes the trip worthwhile. I have realized that my sons are amazing boys-becoming-men. I have admitted that I love teaching and giving my students a chance to succeed in their own Personal Journeys. And I have learned to push my body to new physical goals like running (and finishing) races.
I am not the same writer I was ten years ago — I don’t even recognize her anymore! I grow every time I take a class or finish a manuscript. When I’m revising, I readily dump passages that don’t work anymore because I know there’s more where those words came from. And I can’t remember the last time I had mind-numbing, finger-freezing writer’s block. The words are always flowing — onto my journals, my Facebook essays, this blog, or into my works in progress.
I have made wonderful friends and met great people along this writing journey. I would never change a moment of this trip. Some of my good friends are the most magical writers in publishing today, and that circle keeps growing. Rarely, jealousy rears its ugly head, but I rein it in knowing one day my day may come.
But if my day doesn’t come, I’m okay with that, too. See this has been a great journey. Sometimes I made mistakes that threatened the stability of my world, but I’ve learned how to find that distant star I’ve been following throughout this journey. I train my compass on North and continue searching. As long as I can see my Personal Legend shining in the distance I know this trip will have been worth every step.
I received that message a few days ago. The message didn’t come from my Dragonfly Teacher or from El Juglador. Rather, it came from something deep within me, something that came from a higher source.
I know I haven’t revealed this much about myself here because, really, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. I think anyone and everyone has the ability to connect with and talk to beings from what we deem “The Other Side.”
The reason for the bridge, they said, was to illustrate how the magic-trick for so long reserved to psychics can be universal. On that bridge, I met, among others, my grandparents, my Beloved, and the angels who urged me to fly cross country to visit a Facebook friend. (*I say they in reference to the beings I feel are my guide, but, in truth, the guides are one, yet all. They are me, yet God. It just makes it easier to accept if I claim multiple versus the Creator, which makes me feel heretical!)
Now back to the recent message that opened my eyes.
The question that preceded that answer was thrown out in frustration – In this whole mixed-up world of haves, have-nots, and the searching, how can normal people learn to survive well?
The answer was quick, and repetitive. I got it half a dozen times that night, then more the next day as I was doing some random reading on the Internet. I was researching the Hopi End Times prophecy, which I find fascinating, (more on that some other time.) Here’s the web site where the reference originates: <http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/hopigrey.html>
In fact, your medicine is your passion. (If) Your medicine always makes you feel high while dancing, then dancing is your medicine. If you feel high while cooking, then cooking is your medicine. Your medicine will always help to cure that which ails you.
Your medicine will always give you the power to rise up and continue. (This medicine is of the spirit) Your medicine is also that which you do. Your conduct in the Land of Living Things, what you do is your signature in life and it is your medicine. How your treat others and how you react to the world is your medicine. (http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/hopigrey.html)
The most brutal truth in that paper is simple – that which is your power could be another’s poison.
What does that mean to you and me, you ask?
Simple. Let’s go back to high school, for a second. You’re a senior, suffering from a fatal case of Senioritis, when your parents sit you down and ask you what you want to do with your life. It’s time to decide about college. Your dreams, however, aren’t realistic, they say. There aren’t many jobs available for Video Game Designers or Rock Stars. Instead, they suggest law degree or a civil engineer. Yes, some people want to be lawyers or civil engineers, but others want to be bakers or candle-stick makers instead of being stuck in a high-rise cubicle.
For me, it was easy, I loved writing, but I wanted to study music and be a famous singer. I auditioned and was accepted into the University of Miami Music program, and then my mom’s cousin pulled me aside (at the request of my grandfather, I think.)
I’m paraphrasing here, because my memory is hazy on the specifics, but “What careers are there for musicians who don’t make it?” he asked.
I fought and stood up for my dreams and my choices. I mean, really, this was my life, who was he to make me second-guess my dreams?
But some time that summer I caved and switched my major to a nice, respectable journalism degree. (Hah! That certainly got me far before the degradation of the 4th Estate of journalism launched me into my second career as a teacher.)
Here’s where this “Live your passion” philosophy comes into play for me.
If we are truly living our passion, doing what we’ve always wanted to do, we won’t care how much money we make or where we live, because our joy is in ourselves and our daily existence.
It took me 30 years to finally come to terms with that.
Now, I’m a writer who makes no money from my writing while former classmates of mine rake in awards and publishing deals. But I am ecstatic. My writing is beholding to no one and my life is completely in my own hands.
I’m finally living my passion.
I ask you all to take a deep look at your lives and see where your own passion lies. Then, love yourself enough to research how you can make it your own reality.