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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

Monday, August 30, 2004

An Insightful Conversation with "The Ex"

I had a rather interesting and thought provoking conversation with Joe a couple of night’s ago. While I was talking to him and he was expressing his opinion he actually sort of pissed me off. Once I got off the phone with him and had time to process and really think about what he had told me though, I realized that he was right.

The main thing he expressed to me was that I was not the same person that I was when I left Alabama and that for the most part it was in with a bad way. He said that it didn’t have anything to do with my relationship with Kenn ending so badly and that he didn’t really know what I did every day down here so maybe he didn’t have an accurate opinion. But he said that it seemed to him that I had given up on my dreams. He asked me what I used to say I would never stop doing and I said, “Teaching flags and dance.” Then he asked why I don’t talk about those things anymore.

Things were complicated when I first got here and I guess I mainly just focused on getting A Job…any job. Now that I’m here and things have settled down though, I think I need to take a look and rearrange my priorities. Color guard (marching band) has always been my true love. It’s why I wear my necklace every day of my life, isn’t it? To remind myself that no matter how bad things get I’m supposed to follow my dreams. There was a point in my life where I couldn’t imagine not being involved teaching guard somewhere. Now, I never even really talk about it or think about it. Is that my way of dealing with the loss it has created? If I don’t think about it and I don’t bring it up then it can’t hurt me, right? Well, it’s right and wrong. I won’t miss it that way, but I also won’t be challenged to pursue my dreams and a job where I can achieve happiness.

And so Joe is right. I’ve forgotten my dreams and I’ve forgotten who I am…and I think a lot of that was what made me special. It was what made me, me. I always said that I’d follow my dreams. I’ve always said that money didn’t matter, that I would rather work a job I actually enjoyed. I’ve always said that teaching and working with my students…watching them develop a passion for something that I’m passionate about…was the best reward in the world. To know that you’ve changed someone’s life, you can’t get a better feeling about a job than that. And yet somehow, over the hustle and bustle and craziness of the last few months I’ve forgotten that. I’m working two retail jobs and at the end of the day, how rewarding is that really? It’s not…it’s nothing like working with my kids…nothing like sharing my passion with my students. One thing that people who used to watch me teach guard always commented on was how passionate I was about it. I never tried to be more successful teaching, I never worked any harder at it than I did anything else, but people would always say that they could see how much I loved what I did when I taught flags. They said my tone of voice would change, my eyes would light up, and that they could tell just by watching me teach how much I loved it. In ten years of color guard, I never remember a single time that I looked at my watch and thought, “Yea! And hour until I get to go home!” Most of the time my students had to stop me and say, “Miss Elizabeth, you’re already fifteen minutes over…we need to go home.”

Sure there were times when teaching was hard. There were times when I was ready to pull my hair out over arguments with students…or worse…parents. There were times when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever made a difference in anyone’s life or taught anyone anything. But you know what? Just knowing that you’ve touched one person…knowing that because of you one more person has the passion for the activity that you do…that makes it all worth it.

Working merchandise, you don’t get feelings of satisfaction like that. You may help a customer, but you’re not going to change anyone’s life. So, come winter time, when contest season is over and concert band is in full swing, I’m going to look for a high school marching band program. Concert season always puts band directors in a happier frame of mind than marching season and they will also know by then whether or not they are going to have a guard person for next year. I have to get involved again somehow. I may be down and depressed and feeling completely out of sync with the rest of my life, but that’s the one thing that has to be right. It’s my truest love and closest to my heart. It’s who I am and if I forget that, then I forget everything.

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