Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chasing the wind, soaring to new heights


      Once upon a time there was a tiny girl who looked out her upstairs bedroom window and beyond into the horizon. She stood at rapt attention day after day daydreaming all sorts of grandiose and lofty schemes.
      She hadn’t heard the Everly Brothers song, “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” nor Fleetwood Mac’s advice on keeping your dreams to yourself. It was pure instinct.
    The girl never told a soul what was on her mind. It was best that way. Thoughts needed to gel before letting others in on the delights. In fact, if her friends knew her crazy notions about how she believed she would be living her adult life — trending movie star, famous socialite or successful novelist — they would laugh her out of Brownie Scouts.     
     Ah, such wonderful prospects floated around in her head, and she was jubilant accompanied by her inspirations almost as much as her treasured books.
     The young child didn’t text, tweet or Instagram; she spent no time counting her “likes.” She wasn’t aware of how to become her own personal social media strategist as kids do today. She didn’t YouTube clever short video clips about herself and send them out to feed her popularity in her school and beyond. She had never heard of instant gratification.
     It wasn’t necessary for her to be noticed. She was okay with herself; her loving parents were teaching her the security and confidence she would need to plow through life’s ups and downs.
     The girl was chasing the wind and allowing her wildest imaginations to float out like the peaceful rainbow she could never grab hold of after a violent rainstorm.
     Her feet were planted firmly on the ground in reality. She would be an achiever eventually using both the left and right sides of her brain. It was best for the girl to maintain freedom from interference, and permit the possibilities to be there.
     There has been a commercial airing this winter on television that I appreciated because it reminded me of individual ingenuity. I can’t help but think about all the successful business adventures — Amazon, for one—that grew from garages where like-minded visionaries were exploring beyond their backyards. I would loved to have been a mouse and sat in on the “what if” start-up conversations between those bright people.
     Bill Gates and Steve Jobs come to mind. I am positive they would have been hard to have in a classroom when they were ten steps ahead of their classmates that were plodding along at an average pace, and you, too, the teacher.
     Both of them didn’t endear themselves to fellow employees either on the quest for product development and design. They had a personality that in ways was unlikable and didn’t confirm to the norm. However, they were among the risk takers that have propelled our country into the 21st century.
     Several times in my teaching career I nurtured students who unashamedly told me that they were aiming to do specific feats as adults. One was going to be president of the United States; another was going to be a research doctor finding the cure for a major disease. I noticed that those students often asked to sit in the row by the window, and they would look out a bit longer than most of the other students. I tried to stay out of their way; they were chasing the wind.
      I would like to believe that when they did become famous, they would not state in a interview broadcast all over the world that their elementary teacher — namely me, held them back; instead, I exposed them to broader thinking skills, the basics of reading and writing and the ability to learn from failure.
     You know adult daydreamers that can’t lift off the ground, though. It is a shame that they spin around in circles, make excuses and never get to first base with anything. If they were to find that pipe dream, would they recognize it?
     You wish that someday they will see the light, grab a break thrown at them before they become totally disillusioned. Perhaps, they chase the wind whimsically spending a disproportionate amount of time philosophizing on the meaning of life in broad generalities.
     They are exhausting to be around. You feel like you are working harder at finding ways for them to achieve focus than they are themselves. There is something wrong with that equation. It is wise to let them be in their own state of happiness, and pay attention to your own.
     Folks who are green with envy grabbing after the latest and greatest trying to outdo the Jones next door are fooling themselves. They will never be satisfied. It’s a non-productive way of chasing the wind. The gusts will start howling louder and more furiously while they get sucked into the vortex.     
     One of my favorite songs is “Imagine” written and performed by John Lennon. It is brilliant and timeless.
    The best-selling single of Lennon’s solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisiveness of religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions.
     There will be tiny girls and boys standing in bedroom windows chasing the wind until the end of time. May they hunt the currents bravely, capture the tailwinds and soar to new heights.