I didn’t think it would end like this.
I thought I’d go out in a blaze of glory, on my own terms, when I was ready.
I didn’t think my health would force me out of teaching.
In a way, though, bittersweet as it is, I am ready. I’m ready to move on. I am ready for this new chapter of my life. I don’t know what it will bring, but I truly feel like my time as a teacher has ended. I can only hope that any good I have done at that school will continue to echo and ripple and flow.
Now I must find new good to do. It is out there, in the unknown, in the wild, scary beyond. I’m not sure yet where it will come (or where to even look for it, to be honest), but I must believe that it will come. I must hold on to that hope, even if it scares me.
This—leaving the comfort of the familiar—is as terrifying to me as jumping off a cliff.
I’ve been standing at the edge of this cliff for a while now—probably since my epilepsy diagnosis back in 2012, truth be told—and it has taken all of my faith and courage to even consider this leap.
I am terrified, but I know I must do this.
Something beautiful awaits me beyond this cliff, and I’ll never discover what it is if I just stand at its edge.
Ray Bradbury (may he rest in peace) said it best: “Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.”
What faith that takes, what courage—to leap without wings!
Faith and courage are kind of the same thing, aren’t they? They both require risk. They require action in spite of fear, in spite of reluctance, in spite of doubt. They require daring. They require discomfort.
They require a willingness to walk (er, leap?) blindly into the unknown and trust that a way will present itself where there doesn’t appear to be one.
I must find my faith, my courage, and I must make this leap. I am terrified of falling, but I know in my heart of hearts that I must do this.
I must leap in faith, in courage, and I must build my wings.
(How else am I supposed to fly?)
As soon as I decided I was leaving my job, I started the arduous task of writing letters to each of my fifty-or-so students. I’m not talking about the same letter printed fifty times with only the names changed—no, not that. Not saccharine sentiments about “best wishes for the future” or similar generic fluff. Not that, either. I didn’t find some Pinterest-perfect template. I didn’t look to Hallmark for the words.
I’m talking about fifty one-of-a-kind, individually-crafted letters, the kind of letters where I ripped open my heart and bled onto the page for each of them.
It took months to find the time, to find the words. But I found them. It wasn’t all that hard—I knew those kids so well, and I had so much to say to them. So many good things. So many blessings, so many moments and memories to be thankful for. So many things I’d noticed, so many things I wanted them to know—truths I hoped they’d cling to forever.
Those words were my gift to those kids.
I gave them those letters today, and their response was at once subtle and overwhelming. Some were completely silent. Some laughed, some cried, some shook their heads. Some wrote their own letters to me in response. I got a lot of hugs, a chorus of I’ll miss you’s, and their thanks.
But one boy folded his letter into a tiny square and stuck it into the fold of his wallet, and that was the best response I could have hoped for.