Last week I received two letters in the mail. I wasn’t surprised until I realized that the letters had been addressed by me.
I’d written them the previous summer during a difficult period. At the time, the letters were a reflective activity for a summer institute I was completing. The words on each envelope were in my handwriting yet the notes inside where different; one letter had been written to me from my learning partner during the institute and the other was written to me from me.
Both letters were about hope for the upcoming year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about joy. A few weeks ago a friend shared that he wishes to live an extraordinary life. Me too. I want joy for me, for my daughter and for the students I teach.
I like being happy. I like that I live my life seeking my sacred spaces, seeking my safe people, and seeking serenity. I also write as a means to seek joy.
I write because I am filled with narratives that weave our common tales into extraordinary stories-to-live-by. I believe, in time, I weave my stories into joy. I find hope in stories. I find joy in sharing stories.
Here’s what I mean:
I follow George Couros’s work. I understand that he’s a well-respected educator-leader. And there’s much to celebrate in that. However, that is not why I follow his work.
The truth is that it’s always someone’s story that most inspires me
I follow George because of the way he honours those he loves. I adore the beautiful way that he shares his love for his brother’s children, for his dogs and mostly for his parents. See, I love my parents too.
I don’t know George personally, but I feel connected to him because of our lived-stories. Each of us has someone we call ‘family’, and for George and me, the ‘who’ of our family is rather clear.
I’m in the midst of living my thesis story. In this space I am beginning to understand that the most profound influence of my journey has been my parents, and their teaching stories. This past year has been filled with retellings, restoryings; I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my Dad or my Mom. This past year George and his family lost their Dad.
Last week I held the two letters for a long time. I realised my learning partner in that moment would be holding the letter I had written for her. What had I shared with her? I know I had taken the blank card home and had taken care with the words I had shared. I remember that. What had I shared with her? I wondered how she is doing. I wondered why we didn’t stay connected. I wondered if her world is filled with joy.
Oh, I remember her stories!
At the beginning of summer George wrote about making this upcoming year our best year.
Extraordinary words from a person who just lost his father…
Our lives are story. There is so much beauty in living. “What makes me hopeful is not so much the certainly of the find, but that my movement is search. It is not possible to search without hope,” (Freire; 1997).
As I pulled the card I had written for myself from its envelope, I wondered what message I’d find inside. I wondered what really had mattered to me in that space of fear so many months ago. I wondered what, in all of my words of hope, would matter now.
What would matter now?
A really long time-ago during my undergrad studies, my Physical Education professor once pushed back against all the structure and formalistic necessity of schooling, asking us to pause and to consider other’s stories and what was possible for kids and families. She asked us to not get caught up in getting caught up, asking instead, “How important is it?”
I took a deep breath. I like being happy.
Slowing, I opened my letter.
This is our best year yet, filled with joy. I’d like to hear your stories.