Just yesterday I renounced New Year’s resolutions and goal-making in general, but it’s been shown that creating New Year’s goals is a great start to achieving them (and not setting goals is a surefire way to miss the mark entirely). I’m still sticking to my systems, but there are a number of outcomes I’m aiming at in 2016.
I have a backlog of posts waiting to be published. Many of them talk about race, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to share them. I’ve fallen under fear–the fear of losing social capital, the fear of saying the wrong thing, the fear of looking ignorant, the fear of admitting my own faults, the fear of alienating the people I can learn from.
So where did I go wrong?
Polarity is an interesting animal. We think we know opposites–day and night, sun and moon, light and shadow–but then we’re faced with nuanced categories that defy perfect dualism–male and female, black and white, good and bad. Here there isn’t so much a binary system as much as a continuum, and it’s easy to get lost in the grey matter.
So lately I’ve been longing, lingering, languishing…and I’ve been fighting against it, feeling frothy and shameful, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So I’ve been perusing TED Talks, because they’re awesome, and sometimes a little awesome makes you awesome, too.
And in a way, somewhere in this mess of chaos, a new story began.
When in Rome, do as the Romans. Or in this case Mexico. And then Mexicans. And that means speak Spanish. Except I can’t. Or I can? Not a lot, but is that the point? I’m lying in the dark at a hostel in Puebla as I write this, and I think I need to start at the beginning.
Long before rainbow colors signified the LGBT community for me, they signified Reading Rainbow: a children’s program I watched growing up that helped inspire me to read. I remember watching as they turned the pages, illustrations seamlessly becoming animations, and always wanting to get these books to read myself.
I never did, but just knowing about them made me eager to read–made me look forward to library trips and the discovery and adventure awaiting inside each and every book.
I grew up and Reading Rainbow was replaced by other shows, my interest in children’s books replaced by young adult series, and I never thought about that iconic theme song that still brings me back to my youth. Then, not so long ago, I stumbled across this Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow back to kids everywhere.
Immediately I became a backer.
But there’s still more to do, more children to help Reading Rainbow inspire. I would not have become the person I am today if not for the books I’ve read, and I might not have read anything if shows like Reading Rainbow hadn’t encouraged me to read and made books as much fun as any action figure or play set. Reading is the foundation of all learning, and to help our country–to help the world–be all that it can be, we must help our children learn to love reading. And I believe Reading Rainbow can help us achieve this goal.
Will you please help us change the world, one child at a time?
When you back Reading Rainbow, let me know! As a campaign volunteer, they’d like a tally of how many backers I recruit, but more so I want thank each of you individually..
It’s no secret I love learning, but if you press me to share the most memorable moments that made learning come alive, each of them would share a common theme: a teacher who inspired me. My favorite Hebrew school teachers were understanding and compassionate, sharing stories of living in Israel and talking to us in Hebrew. My favorite math teachers humanized abstract concepts and spoke to us as equals, helping us not only to learn, but to love. My political science teachers have made dull topics exciting by impersonating polar bears flopping around on the ice or breaking the tension with a sarcastic comment that leads the class into laughter; writing teachers have given encouragement, honest feedback, and shown an intimate interest in helping me to grow.
It is no small task, the work and effort I’ve put into my education at every level–from my earliest memories of being homeschooled through today–but if not for the passion my teachers showed me, all of this would have meant nothing.
So wouldn’t it be amazing, if only for a few days, I could inspire others as much as my teachers have inspired me?
Ten teachings ago, we learned that wisdom will be enduring when our good deeds exceed said wisdom. Today we turn to a strikingly similar teaching–with drastically different results.
We all know the saying that we are each greater than the sum of our parts, but I like to expand this by saying I am greater than the product of the factors in my life. It’s funny because of the mathematical parallelism between sums and products, but it also changes the focus from the internal to the external.
When I think of the parts that make me up, I think of the roles I fill and the things I am. I’m a writer, a brother, a friend, a leader. I was homeschooled, graduated from a community college, and now I’m attending an awesome university. But when taken together, I am greater than any one of these things.
When I think of the factors that have brought me here, I think of the outside forces that have shaped me: My parents are divorced, I’ve grown up depending on government assistance, and I’ve only been able to make it through school because of the challenges I’ve overcome. Yet I am greater than each of these things, and I am greater than merely taking them all together.
It’s hard to say which came first–the outside challenges or the changes inside–but all of these elements have brought me here and made me who I am, and because of the extraordinary opportunities I’ve been given, I’ve finally realized where I want to go in life.
Back when the year began I set out upon journey that I soon departed from. I envisioned a better future for myself and drafted a series of goals–but somewhere between then and now I wandered astray and haven’t been able to make much progress on the goals I set out to achieve.
I’ve run into a number of challenges since then, both internal and external, but I’m back in a sound mind again and I’m waiting to play this symphony to completion. Today is target practice for me–a time to shoot some arrows and see where they land. More than half the year remains, and I can step back upon the path I want to follow.
All I have to do is see where I stand today and make sure I’m looking in the right direction to keep moving forward.