Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Rockin' List

Mary Oliver's The Summer Day always leaves me breathless, particularly the last two lines:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?"

When I am 94 years old and sitting in my rocking chair on my wraparound porch, I'll look back and remember, with great fondness, the many adventures I've had in my life - including the following ten items, dubbed my Rockin' List. The rule of the list - each item has to be moderately to significantly outside of my comfort zone.

1. Travel the world. I've never been out of the country. (Canada and a day trip to Mexico doesn't count.) Nuff said, right? Plus, there's always this blog post for additional motivation... (and accountability!)
2. Team up with Jeff for a "Teachers & Nurses Without Borders" service trip - nationally or internationally.
3. Hike and camp along some of the Appalachian Trail as a whole family - the last 75 miles or so, with a respite with friends and family in Maine.
4. Sing karaoke in a bar. (You're surprised by this one, right? This one counts in the "Significantly outside my comfort zone" item).
5. Learn to play a new instrument - either the bagpipes or the guitar. I'm leaning toward the latter - the bagpipes would be a tough sell around our campfire on the Appalachian Trail.
6. Ride on a motorcycle. This includes a trip to a local, shady biker bar for cheap beer out of a dirty glass. Bonus points for quoting from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig while at the bar.
7. Participate in a Sprint Triathlon. I'm thinking fall 2012 on this one. It's a 5 mile run, 20 ish mile bike ride, and about a half mile swim. The swim will definitely be a challenge. Either the sharks will get me, or I'll end up borrowing Pax's swim fins to make it across.
8. Submit something - an article, poem, prose, research paper, policy brief - for publication. Persist until something is published. (Letters to the Editor in the local paper do not count.)
9. Learn to drive stick shift - well. This is imperative, for no self-respecting, future mini-cooper driver would embarrass herself by buying automatic.
10. Make a difference -

"One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better, because I was important in the life of a child."–Forest E. Witcraft

For me, this is my quiet desperation, my ultimate hope and dream. I want to matter. I want to be someone who matters for my own children – for Aidan, Leo, and Pax. But I want to be that person for my students as well. I want to be the teacher who Danny remembers as the one who finally found a “breakthrough book” for him, resulting in a lifetime of reading for pleasure. The teacher whose high expectations for Keisha were unwavering – who celebrated with her when she finally made the honor roll, her ultimate goal. The teacher who taught Samantha how to write, how to love writing, how to use writing as a tool to express the frustration and sadness deep within her heart. I want to be the teacher whose name is evoked during an acceptance speech, in a valedictorian’s address, over stories swapped at a 25 year reunion. This is arguably the only item on my Rockin’ List that has infinite potential for success – and for failure. Perhaps – hopefully – I will look back and know that in my 100 years of living, my bank account has waxed and waned. I’ve made a home in tents and hostels and comfortable middle class colonials. I’ve driven an automatic minivan and a manual mini-cooper, ridden on the back of a Harley. And I’ll know that I have mattered – to Aidan, Leo, and Pax; to Danny, Keisha, and Samantha; to countless more. This is my quiet desperation.

No comments: