December 4th, 2008


The long view

Sometimes I'll feel my future open wide, and suddenly I'm able to see it like it's happening right this moment...

It's not like in the movies, where I'd close my eyes and have a vision of myself at thirty-five, holding a baby in my arms, or at seventy-five, reading a book to my granddaughter. It's more like my mind just gets so vast all of a sudden, barriers fall away and I know with deep intuitive certainty that things are going to be okay. Little things don't matter, and the big things make perfect sense. It's a feeling of timeless clarity, though there's nothing tangibly clear about it at all, no specific vision or even any goal in mind. I just understand myself all of a sudden, and my place in the world. I can't articulate it, but I know.

I was at work today, the last day of my second-to-last week as an adult literacy coordinator. Some days everything's quiet around the library and I don't see anyone from my program, but today wasn't one of those days. There wasn't an hour went by that I wasn't tutoring someone myself, or watching another pair at work. One lady completed a workbook after six months' diligent study; another man started getting to know his first tutor. It was a very connected day of teaching and listening and enjoying. When I started here about a year ago, there was no literacy program at Echo Park. Now there are fifteen tutors and more than twenty students, and others who have come and gone, and all the relationships and triumphs and challenges that go along with them. One student has achieved citizenship, while another has been accepted to college. Shy students have gained confidence, and tutors have gained friends. I'm proud to be able to say I had some part in this. I've gone through this job with doubts and worries left and right, but it doesn't matter; there's still this to look back on and be glad. I helped make this happen, and there's no better feeling.

I challenge anyone to come home after a day like mine and not feel like the future makes sense. Ever since I was a child I've always cared about people, wanted to help others, and desired passionately to share what I know to be good, whether that be a book, a smile, a bit of a knowledge, or a bit of cake. This job has given me a real opportunity to do that, and today I'm left feeling that this will be a part of my life until forever... a kind of destiny, and one that I step into gladly. When I say the barriers fall away, I mean those falsely indestructible boundaries we place between ourselves and our full potential, those words like "can't" and "should" and ideas like "that's not for me" or "that's too difficult." Most of the time we can't see our true selves because all these imaginary obstacles block the view. But once in a while, on a night like tonight, driving north on the 101 freeway toward home, the air will clear and I'll look into the future and see myself standing there strong, beautiful, and sure. I don't know what I look like, and I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm there, being all I'm meant to be, and it's pretty awesome.