Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Lesson Observed

Journal for Christa—
I was flipping through last year’s journal this evening, when I ran across the beginning of an entry I started last year. At the time it just didn’t come together, and I wrote something else instead, but it’s a story worth the retelling. Maybe the timing last year was just wrong; maybe it’s right tonight. It went like this…
The nice thing about teaching is that sometimes as the students discuss, I learn about life with them. This week I learned about sacrifice, but maybe that’s not the right word—maybe it was about just doing what’s right and accepting it as God’s providence.
It surfaced as the class was exploring what it means to “really live” (prompted by Thoreau’s experience of living by Walden Pond). In the midst of their discussion, a student used her mom as an example to illustrate her point. Her mom’s dream had been to be a cosmetologist, but instead she married her husband and apparently the family business, a job she “hates.”
Now, on one hand, I’m a realist; on the other, a romantic. These days I feel like I live somewhere in between. I wonder what the thinkers and spinners of philosophy would advise her to do. Thoreau might tell her to escape and follow her dreams, even if they were “castles in the air.” Orman might tell her to “get out of the boat,” and Eldridge to find the adventure. She does none of these. Instead she works year after year at something that is far, far from her dreams.
            But, that wasn’t what struck me; it was her daughter’s observation: “In this job that she hates, she has such an incredible impact!” Her point was that what her mom does was meaningful, even though she dislikes it. What a concept in our world today.
Some things in life just don’t work out—not for a day, a year, a lifetime. We might want most desperately for them to work, but they don’t. They just don’t work out.
I’ve thought a great deal the last few days about this woman that I don’t know—and her influence on the people at work, her influence on her daughter, her influence on me.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes, I think it happens this way because we are following God's will instead of our own, but sometimes I feel as if we don't chase those dreams because we simply don't have the courage to make radical changes. As I get older, I find I'm more inclined to be radical.