Every once in a while, you hear or read something that explains life so perfectly, you turn it over and over in your mind for hours, days and weeks afterward, as you would a smooth stone. The action is absent minded, yet the worn surface brings you peace and understanding.
Yesterday, as I sat in my classroom attempting to finish my lesson plans, I tried to find inspirational speakers to listen to online. It has been hard, recently, trying to learn the ins and outs that come with the miracle that is being a new teacher. On the one hand, I love my job, my students and my life, but on the other hand, I have never been so tired, physically, mentally or emotionally, in my life.
Through a series of random clicks at the end of youtube videos, I stumbled across this incredible young woman, who spoke in a voice so loud, so powerful it made me feel both weak and strong at the same time. She recited a poem called "Point B" and every line in it was a piece of my truth. I like to write my own things, but sometimes you have to share the wonder that is the mind of another human being. Here is Sarah Kay's "Point B", however, I have written my reaction in italics.
If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” This first part, where she talks about point B, that's my mother all over. And the part about the solar system is something I wish every parent would teach their child, because the world is broad, vast and beautiful and we are just tiny observers to much of the wonder.
She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried. This is what it means to be a SPED teacher. It is hard, you get kicked from what seems like all angles at times, but you keep getting up every day because there are not enough bandaids, or kind words, or super heroes around to fix all that needs fixing. And you never have enough hands, plugs or duct tape to fix all that is broken in the world, but you still go in every day and try to catch what you can, even though you know that 99% of it will slip through your fingers like hot grains of sand, stinging as it falls. Even though you had a first grader tell you they don't have hot water and a third grader tell you he got move to yet another foster family, and all you want to do is hug them and tell you how much you love them, you have to teach the damn lesson. And yet, at the end of the day, you have that one coworker and friend, the one who tells you how awesome you were, or what you can do to get better, or tries to figure out what our hands together could catch and remedy, and that person helps keep you going.
And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick,you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.” What teenage girl doesn't this apply to? What woman doesn't want to fix , and heal and change the life of another, even if it breaks her in two.
But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it. My daughter will know this, should I ever have one. That there are somethings where we cry, eat chocolate, dissolve into a fit of giggles and move on. But some things, we never get over, so we instead protect ourselves with something sturdy and practical so that the good things don't get washed down the storm drain when it thunders.
I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away. We MUST appreciate the human mind, even and especially those that think differently. And we must try to catch the wind, to taste freedom, and touch things greater than ourselves. But we must also know that failure is a part of life, and that blisters and bruises come with stories that make us interesting. Each time I meet someone with a seemingly flawless exterior, I can't help but thing how boring their life must be. My scars are a map of places I've been, experiences I've had and pain I've grown from. And there are days where those you are trying to help will sabotage you and step on your cape, but you can always take the cape off, run, and go find one of the many backups you have stored in your closet, because you, like the ocean or beautiful and will keep trying over and over again to grasp the shore.
You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. I have vowed to train myself to think more like this. My sunny exterior is a choice I make, not daily, but hourly and minutely, although technically this is not a word in the way I am using it.
And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. We live our lives in fear that we will destroy what is fragile, but in this fear, we risk missing out on some of life's sweetest experiences.
“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” So many of us settle and accept, but I know the world has more to offer than it is currently giving, and I will ask and ask again, until I feel that I am getting to live in the world I deserve to be a part of, although I know it will mean I will lose my voice many times and continue to have to ask in spite of it.
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother. I will apologize for my screw ups, but I will not apologize for being who I am, nor for being intolerant of all the injustices in the world. And I will sing, badly and off key, of things that contain beauty, wonder and heartache and scars, so that the world never forgets that I have a voice and that some of what I say might be worth the efforts of their ears. And for anyone who thinks I am difficult, that I am fiercely stubborn, that I go too far in my battle against all is wrong in the world, please allow me to introduce you to my mother, who is a greater warrior that I will ever be.
This woman is only two years older than me, and yet my life has grasped all that is my life with incredible precision and detail, and in only a very few limited words. She is one of my overnight heroes, and I am grateful she is in the world.