- Posted March 12, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Trees, Dreams, and Jobs
When I was twelve I watched as towering elm trees that once lined both sides of our Detroit neighborhood were felled as a result of an encroaching and decimating Dutch elm disease. Blurred waves of green, once held safe by powerful arms of branches, swished to the ground while chain saws and rabid wood chippers howled. This event proved an indelible record of sadness from the whimsical days of my childhood. Gone were witness trees of our lives, and with them a host of reveries of uncountable kids over decades of play.
Our giant dream-catchers were no more.
Sadly, this plight managed to intensify Detroit's course of change, conflict, and yes, of crime in a once grand place to be (yes Detroit in 1973 was still grand), to grow up. To dream.
Like most kids, one of myriad "themed" dreams I’d have was what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” Those subjects entailed such dream jobs as firefighter, comedian, professional football player, dentist, percussionist in a symphony -- the list was long, seemingly endless, part of a boy’s dreams nevertheless.
Whenever he could my father would tell me, “Be a teacher.”
My reply generally consisted of a defiant “No way Dad. I hate school. Why would I want to be a teacher?”
“Because I know you,” he'd answer, prompting me to wonder if he possessed telepathic powers.
Years passed. I got a degree in English, took a job in sales. Hated it. Met a girl, fell in love. She was in school finishing her degree in education. Dad’s sagacious (and telepathic) words began to ring in my ears. So I went back to school and became certified to teach English, grades 7-12. It has been 17 years. I haven’t looked back.
I have my dream job. It isn’t perfect. Nothing is. Like most careers it has its fill of paper work, meetings, professional development, and a host of other ancillary duties that come with the territory. However, I don’t hate Mondays, I don’t mind waking up at 5:30 a.m., and I simply do not -- can not -- get tired of seeing 600 junior high school kids every day, especially my own 125 students. Crazy right? Not really.
Is it magic? No way. On many occasions I have to find the silver lining to things. I have to seek the positive. I have to understand others and empathize as best I can to make it to the next hour. But isn’t that part of how this life works?
My dream job didn’t happen overnight. Recently, someone asked me what I did for a living.
“Teacher, eh?” he asked.
“Poor bastard,” he said.
“Excuse me?” I asked, perturbed at his demeanor.
“All those kids. I don’t know how you do it for the money you make.”
I offered no follow up. I did not challenge his assertion. I was saddened by the level of wealth, of finance that seemed to control the person’s demeanor. His idea of success was shrouded by money. My hope, my belief is that such a mentality is the minority in our country. My fear is it is not.
Here’s the thing: dream jobs are different things to different people. Values have a lot to say about who we are and the jobs or careers we choose. They also speak to what we do for a living. Secret is to find that "living" you truly enjoy and also get paid to do it. While this is not always possible, it can be attainable.
Standing in criticism of what others do is a character crusher. I often remind my students that every job is respectable, provided the person who does it, does so with conviction and efficacy.
Do people who demean others’ jobs bother me? Probably.
Maybe they never had trees to catch their dreams.