Last week a work friend informed me that the Concert of Valor was to happen in DC for free. Then said, we should skip school and go. We laughed and dreamed. After our long faculty meeting, I drove home and she went there. On her way texted me to DVR the concert. That night after dinner, I sat down comfortably to watch this concert, zero expectations in mind. I caught the last hour or so and reminisced about times when live music was oh so important to me. Just when I thought Rihanna was the finale, Eminem strolled on stage. Watching him perform, I noticed the love he had for what he was doing. When musicians are on stage, they are so immersed in the experience. Passionately performing from their hearts. I wondered about myself. I have performed many times in my life and there are few things that compare to the rush and excitement and fulfillment of performing.
But am I passionate like that about my job? Do I need to be? If I’m not, should I find something else that I’m passionate about? Can teaching be as fulfilling to me as performing is to Eminem? Does Eminem have days that he is annoyed by his job like I am or so exhausted that he dreams of a simpler life?
The glamor of musicians can cause reality to disappear easily. There are so many tasks that happen in any artist’s life behind the scenes that may be annoying or frustrating. What I see, however, is the glittery finished product. Is my job as glamorous as Rihanna’s or Beyonce’s? Okay so I don’t have a stadium of fans that cheer me on each day, but I do have a classroom of 28 students who miss me while I’m gone, who laugh at my jokes, who stop and listen to my stories about my childhood. I do have an audience. It’s not a stadium chanting my name, but it may be a student who came up with an endearing nickname like Ms. Chin-chin. I smile and it’s easy in that moment.
Yesterday and today I attended the NCTE Convention for the second time. Attending the sessions at this convention, meeting the authors whom I teach, who taught me how to be a teacher, brings back that passion. It so easy to lose it and think about the shitty expectations and the daily grind. Staying focused on the belief that I am doing something just as important as Beyonce; one that requires just as much skill and hard work is simple and hard.
I may envy the team of beauticians that make Beyonce look so powerful. I may envy her choreographer. I may even envy the fan that is always in the right spot on stage to make her hair powerful.
However, I, too, am worshiped by my students. I walk into my classroom and there is a line of students waiting to tell me about what they did last night or how much they love my dress or that their essay went from 300 to 1000 words over the weekend. It’s different; an extremely small scale only– in comparison to Eminem. I guess the truth is I am doing what I love. Some days it is easy to see my passion. Some days you have to squint to find it. I guess that is okay with me.