This blog post is dedicated to all the teachers, doctors and builders in my life. . .
It is very easy to be distracted from our divine purpose, our mission in life, call it whatever makes your feel comfortable. We can lose ourselves in idle gossip, waste precious minutes doing other things that take us away from being present where we need to pay attention. We can also make excuses for ourselves when we get pushed beyond our comfort zone and blame others for inadequacies. I have been thinking a lot over the past few years about refining the parts of me that threaten to consume me or discolour maybe even taint with the wrong paint, the wrong hue, what I don't want to show of myself. People have judged and criticised and I've listened really long and hard about what it is they are trying to say (or not say with the silence). It's been very valuable learning that I wouldn't change for anything in the world. It's what I'm meant to be doing - absorbing, sifting, looking for nuggets and holding it up to the light to marvel at what it means to me.
Wake up everybody no more sleepin' in the bed
No more backward thinkin' time for thinkin' ahead
The world has changed so much from what it used to be
There's so much hatred war and poverty
There is nothing more frustrating than being subjected to backward thinkin' time. This type of thinkin' is guaranteed to switch me off immediately. I don't apologise for automatically falling into sleep or standby mode. If I can be bothered, I'll automatically restart and try to listen with a little bit more patience and tolerance, even when what I hear sometimes is uninformed and devoid of any real attempt to understand either where I'm coming from or where the minority discourse can often be undermined and belittled. But only if I let it of course. . .
Wake up all teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say
'Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children teach 'em the best way that you can
As a teacher I focused a lot on learning new teaching techniques, new teaching strategies that I thought would inform my classroom teaching, improve my engagement with the students and in turn bring out their best achievement results. I quickly learned that the students needed to have all of the power in the class. I needed to be able to craft really good questions to help unlock their power and their potential. Even with the most troublesome students in the class, I needed to tweak my 'glasses', especially when it came to how I saw them. I couldn't afford to focus on their negative behaviour - I mean for goodness sake, they're kids (my late husband often reminded me when I would regale the war stories of each day's events). I learned to appreciate how each student had their own unique story and that as a teacher, it was my job to ensure that they would be able to tell their story over time without having to feel like their story wasn't important - heck, it was even more important than mine and far more interesting (even though they would never find that out until they left school themselves).
Wake up all the doctors make the old people well
They're the ones who suffer and who catch all the hell
But they don't have so very long before their judgement day
Why don't you make them happy before they pass away
I am in the position of looking after my parents while I pursue a career and an education that has always been a dream chased not only to edify myself as my late Classical Studies and Latin language teacher taught me, but also to bring honour to my parents; the sole reason why they migrated to this country. At times when I forget this sole reason because I am easily distracted by my own selfish desires and moments of childish resentment, I remind myself why I was born. Not many people know that my mother fasted and prayed for me. I literally owe my life to her. She prayed to God for a girl because my father only had sons before I was born, including one final son after I was born too, like some emphatic full stop as if to say, well, that's the end of that. This means that in cultural terms, I have much responsibility - to make my parents happy and to serve them faithfully as a dutiful daughter does - to gain favour with them as I am a gift from God. I am the answer to my mother's prayer for a daughter, and with this in mind, this sense of purpose and mission is not lost on me. My mother - the strongest woman I know, yet one of the most exasperating women I have ever had the pleasure to know - she is like no other woman I have met. My parents are two of the most dearest old people in my life. They're not the oldest people I know, but they are the first people I got to know in the world - my parents. My duty is also to make them happy before they pass away. It can be challenging, but like I say to myself in grateful whispered tones in reflective moments - my parents are a blessing, not a burden. If they're happy - I'm happy.
Wake up all the builders to build a new land
I know we could do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our minds
Surely things will work out they do it every time
There are some obstacles to overcome but I am confident that I have learned so many things in my own version of a 'slumdog millionaire' existence, not as traumatic but just as colourful - with all of the growing and life experiences that have made me appreciate this world.
I hope that my fellow builders (you know who you are) will build a new land with me.
Just remember that no matter how painful, no matter how heart-wrenching, no matter how dark things seem to be and there is no end in sight - keep our eyes on the prize and know that we can minimise the pain and mistrust as quickly as the blink of an eye. So wake up everybody. . .