June 9, 2015 admin

PURPOSE: TEACHING, AND THEN WHAT?

by Bradley Stone

Age 47. Miami, FL

I stumbled into my purpose.  I was a moron with a moron’s GPA at the University of Florida; the only upper division college it seemed I might be able to gain admission to was the College of Education- and so, I became a teacher.

I ended up teaching middle school in urban Chicago for 20 years.  The only thing I’d known growing up

TEACHING INDEED MATTERED, SO MUCH THAT IT WAS DOWNRIGHT INTIMIDATING AT TIMES.

was that I wanted to do something that “mattered”; as it turned out, teaching indeed MATTERED, so much so that it was downright intimidating at times.  Every single day was important; every minute of every day was important.  The great majority of my students were English language learners and below-level readers.  They were brilliant, but needed work to be able to show it.  LOTS of work.  I would tell them that they were welcome to waste time once they’d graduated from college; until that point, they were to get busy.  And, very long story very short, it worked.  Those kids and I forged exceptional relationships and accomplished tremendous things- far more than I’d have guessed we’d be able to do.  Every single working day of my life was pure purpose:  doing vital things that vitally needed to be done well.  Every single day, my presence truly mattered.

So today I’m sending this note from behind a computer at my new job, doing paralegal work for my brother’s law firm.  A variety of office politics-type conflicts, some of my own making, others not, saw to it that I angered two successive principals and was forced out of education.  My purpose is gone with my career.  There’s nothing vital in this job; nothing important; nothing that MATTERS.  A day of “accomplishment” means billing a lot of hours.  Whether or not I show up matters to my wallet, but that’s about it.

I’m tremendously thankful to have this job,

WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?

and I’m aware of how spoiled I had the luxury of becoming by having a career that brought me such a constant sense of purpose and satisfaction.  Those things said, however, I have to ask:  What the hell am I supposed to do now?

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