God must feel like a teacher.

"What do you do?"
"I teach high school."
"Oh, wow, how's that?"

If I put together a top ten list of most common conversations I've had in my life, this would be number one. And it would be exactly the same, exactly the way I wrote it, every single time. 
Teaching is hard to explain to someone who doesn't teach. I say that in the present, as in, you must be currently teaching in order to understand teaching. I believe that former teachers, remember a lot about their teaching experience, but I also think it's a bit like birthing a baby. Most of the pain is forgotten/covered up with the cuteness of the baby and/or modern medicine (or in the teaching case: anti-depressants). 

Being a teacher means you are partially responsible for what 200+ other human beings do while they're under your jurisdiction. The measurement of your work is hardly ever based on something you worked on by yourself and then presented to someone else. You are measured by how well other human beings can do what you've taught them to do. Which means your success and satisfaction in your job is based on what these 200+ other human beings do on a daily basis. I say this because if all I did all day was plan glorious lessons and then hand them to someone else to teach and then went home, I think I would feel pretty satisfied with my work about 88% of the time. However, that is not what I do. Therefore, my self-satisfaction rate is at about 19% on the daily.

I struggle each day to cope with the fact that I don't have total control of what my students choose to do, yet I, as well as others, still base my job performance and my satisfaction with my career on what those students choose to do. Which I shouldn't, right? I should know that I put in my best effort for the day and that's all I can really control. To that I say: ah ha ha ha...ha...HA! It's harder than you think. When they don't turn things in on time. When they don't do their in-class work. When they choose to SnapChat instead of study. When they don't care for their grade for 8 weeks and then beg for mercy 3 days before the end of the term.

I understand that students have circumstances that don't allow them to do things on time or that schoolwork really isn't what they should be worried about. I have those students, I know them and I sympathize that. And a majority of my students are not the ones I'll talk about next. I'm talking about the ones who just "don't." There are no other words that would describe those students better. They don't. They don't care, they don't want to, they don't work, they don't try, they simply don't. Regardless of the reason why they don't, they still don't. Now, how can I be okay with what I do when they just plain don't? Should I say don't again? Don't.

Well, let me tell you how. I had a vision a few days ago. Okay not really a vision it was more like a discernment. Maybe manifestation sounds better? Let's call it all three. In my viscernifestation I learned something.

I teach, and I do my best (most of the time). There are days when we read for twenty minutes because I'm afraid if I try to teach it will come out in a raging yell like Hades in the Disney version of Hercules. And on those days my intentions are to protect the children from my rage, not to slack off.

Instead of holding Pain and Panic, I would be holding students...scary, I know.

And you may walk into my room and we may be watching a clip from The Office. Because when The Office has several examples of the literary devices you are learning, you have to watch it. I feel as though I give my best to my students, most of the time. But there are days when I know I could have done some things differently. More on this tangent another time.

So when I give my best and my students still "don't," the frustration sets in. Frustration with them for not doing the things I ask them to. Frustration because I feel I have exhausted myself trying to find a way to get them to care.

I realized that teachers must feel a tiny bit of what God, or whatever you equate to a god, feels sometimes.

You just want them to try it. You want them to feel or know or care about what's there. You want them to see that what we're doing is relevant to them and that this is about their human experience. You want them to take in everything you are giving and do something with it.

He just wants you to try. He wants you to feel something and to do something about what you feel. He wants you to see your relevance in the world and experience the things around you, rather than watching them pass by. He wants you to take what you have and do something with it.

And how frustrating that must be, to feel as though you have given everything and yet your student meanders in and out of your classroom each day unaware that what's in front of them could help them, or change them. Better yet, that they could take what you've handed them and turn it into something more.

It must be pretty damn frustrating. 

Hannah, the hipsters, and Jesus.

3 things have spurred these thoughts.  I've color coded them so that you might more easily make the distinction.

Please meet Hannah.
Hannah built a matrix.
A matrix of awesomeness out of clothing items.
With Hannah's matrix her originality won't run out for some 27 months, if I'm not mistaken.

From many a hipster I have learned that it is cool (but like one-of-a-kind, unique cool) to have, be, wear, or do what no one else has ever had, been, worn or done.

To my dearest hipster nation, hear you this: you are not the firsts and you most certainly are not the only-s.  Acceptance is step number one.

I decided at the ripe old age of 15 that I was going to get on and stay on the road that I believe not only leads to happiness but is also happy along the way.  Following Jesus and listening to God, that's what I chose.  

Hannah, the hipsters, and the embracing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ have spurred a schizophrenic conversation in my head and it's been going for quite some time.  It entails topics such as originality, individuality, and the ever-flowing body of water that we call mainstream, both within the realm of my religion and outside of it.

How much of what you think is original is the original? This started when I wondered who thought of parachute pants.  We are born imitators. Whether from the conscious or subconscious that is what we do. We imitate what we see and experience. How did we learn to walk, talk, and throw food? Imitation, baby. Despite what you just assumed, I'm not discounting creativity or saying that it doesn't exist, rather that it is often wrongly defined.  Creativity is bringing something about that doesn't naturally evolve or come about through natural processes.  It is not something built from nothing, because you didn't start with nothing. You always start with something: an idea, an object, something you learned previously that was gathering dust in the back of your mind whether you were aware of it's presence or not.

There are many facets to this topic and I can't attempt to voice my opinion about all of them, so this will be a more focused opinion on just one aspect of the whole ginormous thing. 

In this, as I said, is the battle of how to embrace that endeavor of becoming like that person that more than 2 billion people are trying to be like (Jesus, in case you didn't know).  In that effort where does individuality come in? How are you like Him but an individual at the same moment? In the rise and the fall of it I have learned much.  From many sources comes encouragement to be unique, to find a niche, and to be no one but yourself.  We are pushed to "find ourselves" and once that is found to be our "best self", but not to conform and become another lemming without any meaning in our march.  So how do I be like Jesus, but be myself?  This is where the awesomeness begins.  Brace yourself.  Are you seated?   In trying to be like Him, you grow out of bad and good things into this person that is loving, kind, and devoted but with traits that only you have. You love the way that only you can love.  You be kind in only a way that you can be kind.  And you give in a way that only you can give.
To become like Jesus is to be the best version of you that is possible.  He doesn't want you to be Him.  He wants you to be you but be like him.  Love, give, and care but in your own way.

A Book I Read

I thought very little about how I would like to review books here on my blog. Therefore, the highlights of my reading will be shared, do with them what you will.

I watched the movie on an international flight and spent the other 18 hours wishing I hadn't watched it, because I wanted to read the book instead.

"Most of humanity, he said, have eyes that are so caked shut with the dust of deception they will never see the truth..." (155)

"Devotion is diligence without assurance. The decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be--by definition--faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be...a prudent insurance policy." (175)

"It's not much use to send prayers out to the universe that are lazy...ultimately you're more likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end. Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention." (176-177)
"This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you're craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God." (187)

"The hub of calmness--that's your heart. That's where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that center and you'll always find peace." (207)

"Mario told me that he is only happy when he can maintain himself--mentally and spiritually--at the intersection between a vertical line and horizontal one, in a state of perfect balance. For this, he needs to know exactly where he is located at every moment, both in his relationship to the divine and to his family here on earth. If he loses that balance, he loses his power." (227)

"...people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments." (260)

"The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people." (261)

"Am I centered enough now to be the center of somebody else's life?" (311)

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices." (334)
Here is a link to buy the book on Amazon.
The TED video in this post is her as well. Enjoy.