Monthly Archives: May 2014

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou

This morning, I saw a triangle on the whiteboard of the second grade classroom and feared that the Common Core had pushed geometry down to 7 and 8 year-old students.  I looked more closely and noticed the words, “Name it,” “Tame it,” and “Reframe it,” at each corner and surmised that the triangle had some other teaching and learning function.

Ironically enough, a boy in that same class struggled in music class this morning, and was sent to me.  His teacher explained that she had been working with him on the “Frustration Triangle,” seeking to help him “Name” his frustration, “Tame” his frustration, and “Reframe” his frustration.  A book by William Mulcahy, Zach Gets Frustrated, shares this triangle’s philosophy. Zach, while on the beach with his brothers and his father, becomes angry that his kite won’t fly.  He stomps over to his father and inquires, “So when can we go home?”  The father and the brothers are having such a good time that the father wants to stay at the beach and, equally important, wants Zach to enjoy his time as well, so he shares with his son the secret of the Frustration Triangle.  He tells Zach that first he must name what frustrates him, must say in words what the problem is.  Once he names it, Zach can now tame it, by using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditating, stretching, or imagining something that he loves.  The third step, reframing it, allows Zach to see that not flying the kite is frustrating, but being at the beach with his family, having the opportunity to dive into the waves, and building sandcastles can be fun.  All of a sudden, the frustrating piece is left behind, and Zach can enjoy his time with his family at the beach, the original source of the frustration.

As the boy and I first read the book together and then spoke about his frustrations in music class, I also attempted to get him to name the frustration, think of ways to tame it—he chose deep breathing—and reframe his morning with the music instructor.  I think that I brought him around, but the whole time that I was working with him, I was thinking about Maya Angelou’s quotation: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”  It is our responsibility to work to change and improve the world around us.  If we cannot succeed in that, we can and should change our attitude.  We need to name what frustrates us, tame that frustration, and then reframe it, which is really changing our attitude and seeing the world from a different perspective.

The wisdom of Maya Angelou continues to nourish and feed this week, as we remember her words and her deeds.


People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

The passing of Maya Angelou has unearthed many of her greatest poems and expressions and has allowed us to treasure her words again.  I have not read all of them, but I will be surprised if I find ones that resonates more with me than the above quotation.  Two days ago, I wrote about buckets, and our filing and emptying them, and this quotation by Ms. Angelou seems to marry perfectly with that theme.

Words, as much as I enjoy them, are almost as ethereal as the air into which they meld once we start speaking.  They can be powerful motivators, and they can crush spirits.  Maturity and experience have taught me that words have the power to uplift and to denigrate: the old expression, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” just is not true. Words form and change boarders, topple governments, create movements, and alter lives, some for the better, some for the worst.  Most of us have favorite words from poems, from literature, from favorite television shows, and from family members and lovers.  We recite the words, enjoying their sounds and the music that they make in our lives.  Yes, words, as ethereal as they can be, can be powerful, transforming, and, even, memorable.

Actions, as much as I enjoy partaking in them, can become a part of a kind of muscle memory when done frequently or be lost if done infrequently.  As the Red Sox honor the 2004 World Series Team, dozens of exhilarating actions from that season play in my mind—spectacular catches, momentous hits, precise pitches—and I remember them with joy.  I also remember mine own actions fondly: running the marathon to raise funds for notable charities, cycling across country to raise funds and awareness for protective nets, teaching a favorite poem or Shakespeare play, diving into the ocean in January, singing in the choir, walking down the aisle with my bride, holding my child in my arms.  These are actions that play in my mind on a continual loop and evoke a smile.  These won’t soon, if ever, be forgotten.

When interacting with people, however, as Maya Angelou opines, how you make someone feel is the most memorable, unforgettable act: not our words, not our actions, but our impact best remains.  We may have used words and actions for that impact, and, as we know, memory attaches itself to strong emotions, so how we have left a person is what will be best remembered. The words fade, the actions disappear, but the feelings remain and indelibly mark a person’s heart.  Choose carefully, choose wisely, your words and your actions, because they will determine how people will feel about you.  And that feeling will shape your relationships.  


And Still I Rise

“And Still I Rise”

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

The death of Maya Angelou allows us a moment to reflect on this remarkable woman’s contribution to our lives.  Many more thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate persons than I will weigh in on her passing, but I wanted to share this beautiful poem that she’s written and my thoughts. 

The defiance of the first stanza, bitterly and determinedly recognizing the untruths spoken, set the tone for a poem of strength, of courage, of resilience.  That the speaker will rise, like the very place where she will be trodden and forgotten, dust, inspires.  She then tackles one of the most complex issues in American society: the disdain that most Americans, who believe in a code of behavior and acting that never truly existed in our nation, hold for the preternatural exuberance that many African-Americans exhibit.  Richard Sherman’s gleeful, braggadocio at the conclusion of the NFC title game this past January sickened many Americans, causing many to label him a thug.  His confidence, his sassiness, his haughtiness, insulted many, as he spoke as if oil wells pumped in his veins.  Ms. Angelou’s direct questioning of the reader demands that we tackle this important issue: why cannot some African-Americans express their unabashed joy with living and accomplishing?  Why does our joy have to be expressed in a way that isn’t necessarily the way we want to share our feelings?  Is that a reason to tread us in the dirt, to write us down with bitter, twisted lies?

The narrator ascends must higher than dust, now evoking the candles that shine in our skies during the day and the evening, connecting the strength of the narrator’s ascent to planets, stars, seasons, oceans, and universal matters.  The determination of this narrator is more than a personal expression of self; rather, that courage, her courage, our courage, is universal in its willingness to be greater than the people who seek to discourage, damage, and destroy.  The defeat of one is not the defeat of all: the rising of all together transcends the destruction of some, the stumbling of one.

In rising, we uplift one another.  In falling, we create more opportunities to rise.  The narrator in the next stanza questions those who seek to lessen people.  The tension between standing strong and rising in some stanzas, as in the previous stanza, wrestles with the hurtfulness described in stanzas like this one.  Not only is this stanza defined by the hurtfulness of someone who might be mean spirited, but also, by the sincere questioning of why someone would want to crush the spirit of someone else.  The following stanza rises again, as the narrator acknowledges her confidence, her haughtiness, even, which allows her to laugh, to embrace life.  The violence of the following stanza describes the hateful, harmful actions of an angry person or an insecure nation, determined to keep down the narrator: shooting, cutting, and killing aim, like a scythe to cut down physically, but the narrator, able to rise above, climbs, like air, ethereally.

Again, with even more confidence, the narrator almost taunts the reader, relishing in her sassiness, her haughtiness, and now her sexiness.  Each one of these words has negative connotations, but the narrator embraces them, celebrating them, and sharing them with glee, centering this stanza at the enticing sexiness of her loins hiding diamonds.  The meeting of her thighs becomes a mysterious, mystical place that attracts and repels, that forbids and forebodes, that tantalizes and disgusts. A place of treasure and pleasure, of desire and of fire, of wealth and of stealth, that remains unavailable, inaccessible, unattainable, and yet so desirable, all at once.

With the last paragraph, the narrator discards her playfulness and her anger that have predominated and alternated the poem and dresses herself in the mantle of high-minded historian, sharing a valuable lesson and a reason why she will continue to rise.  A litany of crimes against humanity are noted before disappearing as the strength of the narrator’s history and her connection to mother earth allow her to be, simultaneously, the hope and the dream of our weary, scarred-filled past.  The last three lines sing and celebrate who we are and our collective ability to rise, to rise, to rise.

Even with Sister Maya Angelou’s death, we are poised to continue rising, continue filling buckets, continuing feeding the good wolf, continue reaching new heights.  Thank you, Maya Angelou, for these beautiful words. 



Filling Buckets

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. 
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” ― Sam Levenson

As I walked into a second grade classroom this morning, I was a bit disheartened by the uneven start to the day.  The children had been away an extra day with the long weekend, and they returned a bit out of sorts: interrupting one another, calling out, fidgeting as they sat in the circle.  Even though I was only observing class, I took it upon myself to assist in restoring the order that I knew the teaching assistant sought.  As I spoke with the students, admonishing them for their uncharacteristically inappropriate behavior (which, in the large scheme of things wasn’t all that bad), I asked them to look at a poster on their wall.  The poster encouraged the students to spend their time filling buckets.

This concept, filling buckets, is one that children as young as 6 readily understand, so I focused my message to the students on this idea from a wonderful book, Have You Filled Your Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Children, by Carol McCloud and David Messing.  The concept is that each one of us has an invisible bucket that is either filled or emptied depending on what people say or do to us.  When the bucket is filled, we feel great, but when the bucket is empty, we feel awful.  Each one of us also has an invisible dipper.  When we spend our time filling other persons’ buckets by using kind words and doing good actions and increasing their positive energy, we ironically are also filling our own buckets.  Conversely, when we use our dipper to dip into other persons’ buckets, decreasing their positive energy, we hurt not only them, but also diminish ourselves.  The more full the bucket, with droplets of water spilling out, the greater our energy, the more positive our outlook.  The emptier the bucket, with droplets clinging to each other at the bottom of the bucket, the lesser our energy, the more negative our outlook.

Each one of us, each day, has a choice and an opportunity: either to fill buckets or to empty them.  I like to think that each day I seek not only to fill other ones’ buckets, but also to surround myself with people who are like-minded: who want to fill buckets.  As I spoke with the children, I asked them to ask themselves, is what I am doing at present filling or emptying a bucket?  That is the essential question I want to ask myself each and every day, each and every moment.  Am I filling or emptying someone’s bucket?

The above quotation, attributed to Sam Levenson by Goodreads, beautifully shares how we can bring beauty into our world and help ourselves.  Remember, each one of us walks around with that bucket and ladle—and they are not always so invisible. Find ways to fill and be filled, give and receive, love and be loved.

The Readiness is All

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.”

These words coalesce in my mind whenever someone dear to me is lost.  A beloved friend called me yesterday to share the news that a former colleague of ours has passed in the night.  Expected at work, Cheryl never arrived.   She had been a gentle voice, a reassuring hand, a soft, supportive shoulder to me during my year teaching with her. An older woman, she naturally, easily, and effortlessly assumed the role of a maternal mentor, proffering sage advice and lending a listening ear to me, a confused neophyte.  We worked together on a number of projects, as she primarily taught humanities and writing in the high school.  Cheryl cared, and she supported her colleagues, us, keenly aware that a listening ear is more valuable than a wagging tongue.

Her loss, like any man or woman’s loss, diminishes me, diminishes all of us, because we are all involved in humanity. We are not islands, even if we feel lost at sea when a loved one leaves us. The beauty of community, of being a part of the main, is that we can seek succor from our family and friends.  

 After hearing the news, I returned to my work, but for the rest of the afternoon and evening, my thoughts returned to my recently departed friend, and I started thinking about the precious nature of every single moment of our lives.  “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” as Annie Dillard reminds us, and I sought assurances that I am spending my days and life the way I want to spend them. Think how you want to spend your life, your years, your months, your weeks, your days, your hours, your minutes, your seconds—and with whom.  There are two kinds of people in the world: people who enervate and people who invigorate.  I strive to spend as much time as I can with the latter persons, for I want people around me who restore and uplift me, people who make living worthwhile—as my friend Cheryl did. 

I encourage each one of us to focus on how we are spending our seconds, our minutes, our hours, our days, our weeks, our months, our years, our time, and make sure that we are spending them with people who use their words to inspire us and buoy our spirits.  The story below emphasizes this point that we must treasure every moment:

“Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.  It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.  What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!  Each of us has such a bank.  Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance.  It allows no overdraft.  Each day it opens a new account for you.  Each night it burns the remains of the day.  If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.  There is no going back.  There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.”  You must live in the present on today’s deposits.  Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!  The clock is running. Make the most of today.  To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.  To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.  To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.  To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.  To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.  To realize the value of ONE-SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.  Treasure every moment that you have!  And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time.”

Hamlet, after he returns from his time on the ship, marvels at the miraculous events that led to his standing on English ground again. As he describes the strange and wondrous events to Horatio, Osric arrives and shares Claudius’ wager on Laertes in a fencing match. Hamlet accepts the challenge against Laertes, the son of the man Hamlet accidently killed, an act that sent Hamlet into exile. Horatio, Hamlet’s dear friend, warns him that this fencing match may be a ruse, but Hamlet, centered and embracing of his fate says:  

“Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the
readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he
leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?”

He’s at peace and ready to accept the world as is. The advice that resonates most with me is the following: “the readiness is all.” Since no one knows when his end will be, everyone must be prepared, at all times, to take advantage of this second, this moment, this opportunity. In sum, it is our responsibility to make the most of every moment, to drink life to the less, to know that the bell, when it tolls, it tolls for thee.



Prepare the Child for the Road, Not the Road for the Child

A friend shared with me this article from The New York Times that discusses Trigger Words and the increasing demand from students that professors alert students when literature or art contains words, descriptions, or images that may cause pain, anxiety, or trigger awful memories. As the article opens, “Should students about to read The Great Gatsby be forewarned about ‘a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,’ as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Things Fall Apart — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?”

On my Facebook page, the response has been predictably quick and strident—and mainly in one direction: that we are idly standing by playing the lyre whilst Rome burns around us—the end of Western Civilization as we know it is occurring, and we are watching indifferently. I must admit that I sang the first notes in this chorus, and joined my voice even louder as other ones sang lustily as well. I felt as if I had finally posted something on which all of us could agree. But then, I held a good conversation with my wife, a professor at a local college, and she, with her usual measure, was able to see another vantage point. We spoke for 20 minutes this morning—what a luxury to discuss an important topic with your spouse that doesn’t deal with progeny or husbandry—and she helped me to see another vantage point. Then, we spoke latter, and she told me that one of her colleagues, a Gender Studies professor, completely agreed with the idea that students should be prepared for shocking events in works of art, lest they be traumatized. Then, a dear friend, a Rhodes Scholar, no less, weighed in, and she, in her typical eloquence, poise, and empathy, suggested that what many of us were missing is the “self-care” portion of this request from students.

Hearing her position, I felt compelled to answer her and let her know that I respected her perspective, but that my fundamental position hadn’t changed: the purpose of art, as expressed by Hamlet, is “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure” (III.i.). Our world is filled with pain, suffering, disappointment, “The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, /The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, / The insolence of office,” and there is, in spite of the powerful words of Margaret Mead, very little that we can do to mitigate that truth. Shielding children from the ugliness of the world is a noble, but ultimately vain exercise. Eventually, each child will experience the world’s ugliness, and there are fewer guides more gentle, more supportive, more understanding than a good professor and a powerful piece of art. Art, then, allows us to understand and make sense of a confusing world in a relatively safe space. Seeing America’s hypocrisy through the eyes of Huckleberry Finn, or experiencing fear through Bigger Thomas’ eyes, or observing Tom Buchanan’s abusive and misogynist violence lets us know that our world holds ugly secrets, and when we read these works with classmates and we discuss them with skilled professors, we are able to process them and prepare ourselves for the world that we will inhabit and inherit.

I like to think of this idea as preparing the student for the road, not preparing the road for the student. The latter only seeks to handicap the child and make him or her unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead. A favorite parable supports this idea:

“A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.

The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.

The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight.

What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.

Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.” (Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)

Life is hard. Struggle is necessary. Some of our greatest humans, Nelson Mandela among them, have struggled mightily, emerging from their cocoons prepared to lead and to inspire.

Perhaps nothing is more heartwarming than to watch a mother do everything in her power to protect her child from the realities of a world that is filled with hunger, with woe, with loss. I admire all mothers and fathers who do whatever that they can to protect their children. And I admire teachers and caregivers who do the same. But at some point in a child’s life, he or she needs to know that sometimes we cannot be protected from all the pain and misery that our world affords. And literature and art provide a time-honored form and space for dealing with life’s heinousness. Too often, I fear, we spend our time preparing the road for children, instead of preparing the children for the difficult road ahead. It is always a balance when we choose to be inclusive of all peoples with wildly various experiences, but we all must accept that we can be decent and supportive without exposing every leaf of each flower that is the art experienced in our schools and our colleges.

“Striving for Success without Hard Work is like Trying to Harvest Where You Haven’t Planted”

This time of year lends itself to advice giving.  All across the nation, colleges and universities are conferring degrees on thousands of young men and women, and as is tradition, successful, sagacious solons share their solemn perspectives, their expansive experiences, and their eternal wisdom with students probably blissfully unaware that the words spilling from the lips of the speakers may direct and improve their lives.  I think that George Barnard Shaw observed that youth is wasted on the young, and that comment is most clear during these moments when good advice is being shared.

The Huffington Post compiled eight superb speeches and shared them recently,, and I am confident that one or two of these speeches will inspire future musings by me.  Most speeches celebrate the limitless future of the students, but David Brooks, who has begun speaking at a number of commencements, shares a slightly different perspective in this opinion-editorial from 2011:  It is well worth the read.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to offer mine own advice, and, as faithful readers of this blog, you must know that my theme is often a carpe diem, seize the day, theme. I firmly believe that the beauty of life lies in embracing the truth that not only is our time limited, but also, arbitrary: the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns, can be our destination at any time.  Take full advantage of the moment.  Carpe Diem, seize the day; squeeze every last moment out of every single day, suck the marrow from the bone, so that when you put your head on the pillow at night, you can say with certainty, “I have no regrets.”  Here’s a parable that I read that supports this idea:

“Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.  It carries over no balance from day to day.  Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.  What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!  Each of us has such a bank.  Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance.  It allows no overdraft.  Each day it opens a new account for you.  Each night it burns the remains of the day.  If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.  There is no going back.  There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.”  You must live in the present on today’s deposits.  Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!  The clock is running.  Make the most of today.  To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.  To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.  To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.  To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.  To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.  To realize the value of ONE-SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.  Treasure every moment that you have!  And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time.”

And as you look to drink life to the lees, to the last drop, seek to work hard.  As I was preparing this text, I came across this quotation: “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted” (David Bly).  You are sitting here celebrating this moment because you have worked hard; you have taken advantage of each moment.  Continue to do so, because as you will hear often, “Everything counts now.”  It has always counted, because life is enjoying every single moment, but it will seem to count even more as each decision that you will make will determine your future path.  I like to think of this as doors opening or closing.  Each time you fail to do an assignment, quietly another door of opportunity will close.  Each time that you choose to do wrong over right, quietly another door of opportunity will shut.  Enough of these failures and choices over time, and you will hear quite loudly the shutting of the doors, most clearly represented by failing to go to the college of your choice, or losing that promotion you so earnestly want.  Conversely, each time that you opt to do your work, silently another window will open.  Each time that you choose to do right over wrong, help a friend, donate your time or your treasure, comfort a peer who is anxious, nurse a relative who is sick, cheer a sibling who is sad, another window will open, and you will see quite brilliantly the opening of the windows.  People who choose to make the most of their time, people who embrace this moment as the most important moment, find that windows open for them and opportunities abound. 

Seeing my typical traffic, I doubt that many will be affected by these words, but as any educator will tell you, sowing seeds is an infinitely patient, but wildly satisfying business.  If one person is better because of this post, then I will have done my job, will have made the most of this moment.