Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Show Up and Do the Work

I recently started teaching a new class -- Introduction to Literature.  It's a great class, but it's not easy.  When the students saw the five page literary analysis outline they'd have to complete for each paper due, they got a bit scared.  One person told me he was dropping the class (which he promptly did) and another student raised her hand and said, "Is it feasible to pass this class?"

I smiled and said, "Yes, the majority of students do pass this class.  You just have to do two things: show up and do the work."

And as I said that, I thought how much that advice applies to life.  So much of what we go through, we fail at because we either don't show up or don't want to do the work.  I meet people every day who opt out of their life challenges either through drinking, drugging, complaining, avoiding, resenting or living in the past.

But we're here to pass a really hard class.  Some of us will fail, some will get passing grades, but some of us will soar with high A's.  And just like my English class, it will be fun at times (next week when we're studying poetry, I'm going to make them finger paint illustrations to a poem they've written), it will be exciting (we have debates on love, death and faith), and it will be meaningful (we'll be reading Faulkner, Shakespeare and Hemingway to name a few), but it will be hard (did I mention all the papers, quizzes and the final exam?)  Life is like this -- filled with ups and downs, twists and turns.  It doesn't matter if you're happy with this outcome or that one.  The key is learning from every twist and turn and then learning to be happy in each of these moments.  Easy? No.  Important? Immensely.

Life is school.  Plain and simple.  Some of us are in Kindergarten, others are in high school and some are in graduate school.  I do believe there are older souls who are here as teachers.  Make no mistake, just because I call myself a Psychic Teacher does NOT mean I consider myself an old soul.  I'm more like a Sophomore -- I think I know a lot more than I actually do :)

Here's what I do know -- we're not in this school alone.  We have fellow classmates, great teachers, tutors, principals, and counselors to help us get through and pass each grade.  We're also given instructions on how to complete our assignments every day.

Did you ever have that teacher that gave the quiz with these directions: If you're reading the directions like I've told you to, you do not have to complete this quiz.  Just write your name on the top and turn it in?  Gosh, those teachers got such a kick out of pulling that one on us.  And, for me at least, it worked. Twice.

That's how the universe works.  The directions are there; sometimes we just forget to read them.  Listen for your instructions.  Be patient.  Show up.  Do the work.

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it" -- Thomas Jefferson

"The big secret in life is that there is no secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work." -- Oprah Winfrey

And if you'd like to extend the metaphor from the classroom to the stage:

All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players;
they have their exits and their entrances;
and one man in his time plays many parts,
his acts being seven ages.

As You Like It Act 2, Scene 7

Show up. Do the work.  You'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

  1. That's good news, since I was always good at school. ;) I completely agree that life is all about learning the lessons and learning to seek out the teachers & helpers. It's hard to see the lessons when it's painful, but I know they're there if I look hard enough and ask for help.

    I also think, after living in Africa, that most of the people who have REALLY difficult lives, full of pain and poverty, are old souls who got to the point that they could accept those roles. Every single child in my village had more lines on their hands than you could count and clearly were not here for the first time. That's probably not on topic, but it made me think of it when you mentioned old souls.