Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rude Awakening Number 478: Caffeine Really Doesn't Hold All the Answers

If you're here looking for a list of all 478 Rude Awakenings, please look elsewhere. You gotta live a bit on your own and figure them out for yourself. Which, I suppose, is much the point I am trying to make.

Oh, damn. I've gone and stated Blog Entry Thesis Number 329. Yes, I have no less than 328 other ideas I'd love to blog about, but that accursed thing called Real Life gets in the way more often than not. That and having a career and a home and...oh, wait. Those all fall under the purview of Real Life, don't they? Pfffft. Stupid, troublesome Real Life.

I met a former student for coffee tonight, which was nice for a whole variety of reasons. Nice because I really miss a lot of former students and truly enjoy seeing them and hearing about how their lives are going and what not. Also nice because this one in particular is a really intelligent and intellectually curious (yeah, yeah I know--they're often the same thing) person who has the added benefit of possessing a big heart and a good soul.

I know what you're thinking. You're clearly screaming--or at least emphatically mouthing the words to your monitor--"Wow, ETE--you must really think highly of this person!" I sure do. And as enjoyable as it was to catch up a bit, I can't help but feel a bit bad.

"Whaaaat?", you say? ETE feels bad about a teacher/former student interaction? Doesn't that last "E" stand for "Extraordinaire"? Sure it does! You see, however, said former student is really hating post-high school life. They're also coming to the sad realization that other people, no matter how much you trust them and value their wisdom and life's experience, don't always have all the answers.

A lot of kids come to me to talk and ask my thoughts/advice about things in their lives that are outside the typical student-teacher interaction. This is one of the things I'm very proud of; I view it as kind of a sacred duty. I believe a lot of kids really need an objective, tolerant adult opinion. Someone who isn't their parent or their teenage friend, someone that can look at a situation and just share an honest opinion and not say what they think they should or tell the student what "they want to hear".

So why do I feel sort of bad, you ask? Or maybe you're just bored of wading through my trite musings and wish I would get to the point and quit channeling Henry James or Charles Dickens? Trust me; I'm nowhere near as verbose as those boys. Reading James is akin to pouring Frank's Hot Sauce on a paper cut between your toes. Caution!! Broken Transistion Ahead!!

On the one hand, our chat was an ordinary conversation, the kind of talk you'd have with someone you're comfortable with that you haven't seen in a while.

On the other hand, I feel kind of bad because I feel as if I let this person down a bit. As if they were looking for some sort of catch-all "Hey, life will get better because..." kind of answer. This is a person who would come to me when things were a bit dicey and ask for my thoughts. I always just told the truth and hoped that I helped out a bit. I'd like to think that I did.

Tonight, I think Former Student started to realize that no matter how smart, over-educated, generous, kind and magnanimous someone is, there comes a time when you just need to figure things out on your own. No matter how cleverly someone can sneak a blatant ego-inflating sentence into a blog entry, sometimes you're smart enough to listen to other people...and then draw your own conclusions.

Obviously, I could be misreading all of this. Maybe Former Student just wanted to vent about College Adjustment 101 and wasn't looking for any of my trademark profundity.

If, however, they were, and they didn't get it...maybe they've finally learned to go deeper. To question the answers they thought they knew. To ask for more information before they made up their mind. To do, in short, the only thing I've ever asked of any of my students: to think on their own.

If that's the case, I'm awfully proud; I've got at least one success story to brag about the next time someone mocks my salary.

Maybe caffeine really does hold all the answers.

1 comment:

hey, i think that's me said...

I'm pretty sure this is me. But man, if it's not, I'm gonna feel like such an idiot!

I think i realized all of this around late October, a little later than I'd have prefered. But anyway, you didn't let me down. I realized though, after this, that I may be beyond a point in my life where people can fix my problems for me. And perhaps it is time to grow up, a little, and adapt.

I also realized college includes a lot more sleeping than high school does. Which really changed my outlook to a positive one.

Let's meet again and I can be peppy and smart, not mopey and desperate for life answers!