I realized today that I want to teach because the most important people I have ever met are teachers.
That college kid teaching young kids art who most of the time seemed harsh and serious, and one day held up my sketch of two profiles and said to the whole class that I had made the best example of mirror imaging. Even though my brother's profiles were pretty, and probably everyone else's in the class too, and I knew it, I will always remember that my teacher praised me for my ugly drawing because I did my best to tap into the real meaning of art.
The piano teacher who assigned me a performance piece I felt I couldn't handle and that I hated the first time I practiced it, which taught me how to wrestle with an art work until I understand it and can touch it with my own pulse.
That startling, persistent horseback instructor who never let me leave the arena after a fall and never cried with me when I was scared but always told me with her insistence that I would reach my goals and if I had not reached them I was not done working.
That sweetest of teachers who overcame a life of self-abuse to embrace a holistic understanding of health and an unapologetic, pervasive spirituality that gave her a passion for students while she still maintained firm authority.
That short, sharp English teacher who challenged me to work hard every day of the week and never once allowed me to think I could get by on talent alone.
Those professors who have modeled interpersonal excellence, and made me through their own joy and passion in everyday life to prioritize loving and understanding others above anything else.
I have said to my friends before in trying to understand my own growth as a person and how it has been stunted and come in bursts that teachers have been better parents than my true parents could have ever been, and this is not a fair statement because my parents have sacrificed a lot to give me the gifts that I have. My mom, after all, was my first teacher, and the one who showed me how varied and intrinsic and joy-infused, how self-generated learning can and must be.
There is something about choosing to invest in someone else's world, even if only on the merest fringes, that dedication to changing the soul in the slightest ways that will become the person's realization of their true self, that unshakeable belief that each of us holds unlimited potential and that the rest of the world, if it is skeptical about that potential, may go to hell.
When you make someone else's success your goal, you hold a tremendous power to give the gift and the joy of life in a million different ways, a million times a day. It is staggering to me the amount of influence a healthy adult can hold over the wellbeing of a young person still coming to understand who they are, not yet conscious of what they need.
Anyway, enough of the pretentious language and run-on sentences.
The point is this:
There is nothing that will satisfy me but to pass on the gift, to exude the joy - to teach.