Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Doing What We've Never Done

All week I've been trying to write curriculum for my after-school pilot program. I'm not a trained teacher. I've tutored and I've volunteered in classrooms. Mostly, I've just been up there at the wipe board (apparently the blackboards and chalk of my youth are long-since gone) winging it.

Rather than writing curriculum, I've been staring at a very blank white screen on my laptop, complete with blinking cursor. And that little tiny voice, the one I just dread, decides to show up at the most inopportune time to make me feel even worse. "Who are you to be writing curriculum?" it says. "You don't know how to do that." And as much as I want to turn down that volume, the voice grows louder, adding more doubts, more concerns, and more insecurity to my already frazzled mind. I have no idea what I'm doing. There's no denying that.

At 11:00 last night, I closed down my laptop without having written a single word. "The voice was right," I thought. "Who do I think I am? An untrained "teacher" writing curriculum. I can't do this." I did what I often do when I'm frustrated with my writing. I read. The latest issue of Yoga Journal just arrived in my mailbox so I cracked it open and began reading from page one.

There is a belief in yoga, and I believe in Buddhism as well, that the Universe will provide us with the exact teaching we need exactly when we need it. Kaitlin Quistgaard, the Editor of Yoga Journal, wrote this month's editorial note about how to show up for life and begin something we want to do even if we aren't sure how to do it. "It seemed like a life lesson designed to show me the value of doing my part, even if I don't know what to do," she says of a recent incident she had. This sounds like valuable ammunition against that little voice that was doubting me. I keep reading.

A few pages later, I come across an article by Julia Butterfly Hill who talks about finding your purpose and growing with it. Hmmm...sounds like another good one. The whole article is one beautiful quote after another. "Who am I supposed to be in my life?...what do you want your legacy to be?...We approach everything backward...we live in a production-driven society rather than a purpose-driven society." And here's my favorite line that I'm considering having made into a t-shirt: "We don't have to know how to do something before we begin it." Though I'm a product developer, paid to produce, I am much more concerned with living my life with purpose than with things.

So that's it - that's all I needed to know to silence the little voice nagging at me. It's true - I don't know how to write a curriculum. I don't know what material will resonate with the kids I want to teach. I don't know how to actually do anything related to this project. I do know that I am a fast learner, and that I was born not knowing much of anything except how to breath, (and even that breathing isn't something we do consciously!) I do know that I want to live in a world where every child has the opportunity to learn anything and everything that interests them. I want them all to grow up happy, healthy, safe, and excited about the possibilities that lay before them. I want them all to have a chance at a good and decent life. And that's more than enough purpose to keep going.

The photo above can be found here.

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