So I had an idea today to creatively express gratitude for teachers that I’ve loved.
I had the idea while washing my armpits in an effort not to smell bad for the next couple hours until I bathe properly.
My brain began flashing all those lovable teachers through my mind:
Mrs. Pickering, who read my third grade class a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story every afternoon.
Mr. John Goodpaster, my sixth grade teacher who intervened so compassionately the day my best friend told me ‘I don’t care if you die today’ and broke my heart during a spat.
Mr. John Dant, my high-school junior year obnoxious-paisley-tie-wearing English teacher, whose only final exam question, ‘Define what it is to be human,’ terrified, intrigued and motivated us from the first day of class.
Ms. Merry Wilson, my college geology teacher, who added test questions that required more critical thinking just to challenge me. And who gave the best lecture I’ve ever witnessed on how the natural weathering of rocks provides our bodies with salt and potassium, concluding that we are evolutionarily predisposed to need margaritas and chips after a day of field work.
And there are more. And what struck me is that even though we may not keep in touch or indeed ever meet again after I’ve left their classroom, when I think of them, what I feel is genuinely love. Some of them I’ve already made an effort to tell about the impact they’ve had on my life. But today suddenly I wanted to work on a little shout-out to my teachers to express my gratitude. And that’s part one of this post, now done.
On to part two.
It also occurred to me that teachers come in many forms, including the wonderful fiction authors who’ve influenced me but who I’ll probably never meet.
Standing with the soap still in hand, I though of one author particularly, Neil Gaiman, who taught me about ideas with his Sandman story ‘Calliope‘. Reflecting on people asking him ‘where do you get your ideas?,’ he wrote:
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.
Turning off the water, I thought ‘I just had an idea and noticed I’d done it.’
So this is my thanks to Neil Gaiman for teaching me that it’s not so much about having an idea as it is about doing the work to create something. Even something as little as this silly blog post.
I’m also adding a WICF category to my blog, ‘where ideas come from.’ Because after a while deliberately trying to notice when and where my head serves up an idea, I think it will be amusing to peer back at such an odd collection of places and times. And the ideas will be there waiting if I forgot them and need one again.