Monday, March 23, 2009

List five things to do before you die.

Every time I see a prompt like this I start with, "Does someone know something I don't know about my death?" which then leads to, "How much time do I have left, because if it's a lot I might list more grandiose things. If not, I'll be sure to list relatively attainable things so that I can check them off the list and then feel fulfilled."

And therein lies the problem. Shouldn't dreams be attainable ones, or should we say (and lie to ourselves a little) that we can do anything - that all things, big and small are within reach?

My students were taught "You can do anything you set your mind to." And then rainbows and kittens shoot out of their asses. When I hear them say this, I usually cough "bullshit" under my breath. Today it came out as "That's a bunch of crap. You can't do anything you set your mind to!"

They countered with (and I'm not kidding with this), "Ms. Haag! Why do you have to be such a Negative Nancy!"

"OK, first of all, where did you find the time machine that took you back to the time period when people (moms) said 'Negative Nancy?," I rhetorically asked, "and secondly, I'm not being negative. I'm being truthful. You cannot be or do anything you want. It's called the real world, gang. Welcome to it."

They acted like I had just told them the truth about the Tooth Fairy - that their parents were not the Tooth Fairy's 'helpers' at all, that they had been tricked into believing something completely and utterly bogus - like believing that one can be anything he or she wants, for example.

They mumbled that no matter what I said, they actually could do anything. I think they were kicking rocks down the street in their imaginations. I mean, how dare someone - a teacher, no less - tell them that they can't be whatever they want!

I said, "Look. I would love to be a professional musician. But it's not going to happen. I don't have the talent."

"Well, get to practicing, Mrs. Haag, and you can be," one said. "Plus, you're Ms. Haag!" said another bright-eyed boy, as if I really were the beloved, magical Tooth Fairy in a shabby teacher disguise.

May I remind you that I teach seniors? These "kids" are 17 and 18 years old - eligible to vote and to carry a weapon for the US military.

I suppose there is still some illusion about what they can and can't do. For example, they believe they are invincible and can race a car at 100 mph in traffic and not hurt anyone. They believe that they don't have to do any classwork and still graduate (they aren't too far off on this one, thanks to our lovely education system). So maybe it isn't such a leap to think that they can one day snap their fingers and be superheros and rock stars and professional athletes.

But I think it is irrational and counterproductive, even, to tell them they can do or be anything, because doesn't that immediately set them up for certain failure? I might be more amendable to using the word "try" instead of "do" or "be." Maybe.

The conversation pretty much ended with me saying, "Um OK," seeing as I was obviously going nowhere fast.

All of this occurred to me as I was thinking of my list of 5 things just now.

So here they are, grain of salt included:

1. Climb Maccu Piccu
2. Live in a different country for a while
3. Learn how to play the guitar
4. Raise a kind, mindful son
5. Become as magical and inspirational as the Tooth Fairy

Now that I have sufficiently stomped your dreams and aspirations into the ground, what are your five things?

16 comments:

Patty said...

Wow that's tough. I love your number 5. I ditto that.

1. Inspire some of my students to become teachers
2. Teach overseas
3. Visit the Taj Mahal
4. Be loved and love another unconditionally
5. Continue my friendships with the handful of best friends I have

Great post!

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

I'm with you (if lucky, literally) on #1, and I know a guy who can help you with #3.

I'll have to scrub the negativity callous off my psyche and come back later with my 5.

Kathy B! said...

1. Be patient
2. Accomplish all of the great ideas ( good intentions) that I want to do but never have the time to do.
3. Go to medical school.
4. That's all..
5. ...I've got :)

Laura said...

I'm with Wern, need to scratch something and get back with you on my 5.

I love your #5 also.

I guess I'm still naive and think that you should dream really big and believe you can attain it. So I guess I'm in between where your students are and where you are on this topic.

And that's coming from a pessimist.

Amy said...

What a nice post.
1. Being a great Mom to my child(ren)
2. Giving Love to my Husband
3. Travel
4. Learning
5. Keeping Friends

Ginger said...

Patty - Awesome list! I'm with you on #2, for sure and 4 and 5, I hope, are a given!

Fougs - Lets plan #1! For #3, are you talking about Jamie? B/C I wold be intimidated..
Can't wait to see your list!
(and write your story!)


Kathy - Your #1 is so freaking hard for me! I admire that you put it on your list! And medical school? WOW. You rock!

Laura - I'm glad you're not jaded enough to buy into my blatent pessimism!! :) I look forward to seeing your list!

Amy - You're already accomplishing your list, especially #1! And how brave of you to say child(ren). I'm definitely not that brave.. :)

Cassie said...

1 Visit all 7 wonders of the world (and then some)
2. Reach retirement age and be able to live comfortably
3. Watch my daughter grow into the strong woman I know is inside her.
4. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up
5. Go back to school for something.That's may sad little list. Have a great day and thanks for helpling get the old bean working this morning.

Ron said...

1. Love my wife as Christ loves the church (sacrificially).
2. Love my children unconditionally.
3. Laugh, cry and care deeply each day.
4. Minister to others using my spiritual gift of encouragement.
5. Take my wife on a carribean vacation to celebrate 15 years of marriage.

The Blonde Duck said...

Awww. Poor kids.

I'm amazed you're envious of my job. It's a scary time in the journalism world. Most of us envy ya'll.

Kathryn said...

I think I know where you are coming from as far as saying that believing we can be or do anything we want is unrealistic, but at the same time I believe strong will and determination can get you what you want. Even if what you want is something that requires "talent," like being a musician.

It's important to remember that if people have true, deep-seated dreams, they CAN and WILL achieve them through hard work and perseverance. It's when 17 year old high schoolers say "I want to be President" with no real conviction and claim that they can do it that it becomes the problem.

Maybe I'm an idealist (though I've never thought of myself that way) but I dream as large as I like. And I will accomplish the goals I set for myself. One way or another.

That said, I really do think that many high schoolers take that adage as "I can do or be anything I want....with no effort or work." rather than "I can do or be anything I want with enough determination." Perhaps that is a more accurate way of looking at it.

Though obviously, people must be aware of their individual handicaps - I can't be a professional ice skater because I have a serious knee injury...that aside, I think we can accomplish whatever we fully set our minds to.

My five:

1. Stage Manage on Broadway
2. Live in New York with my best friend, Jessica
3. Travel to India
4. Take a Year Off and Backpack Overseas the whole time
5. Love as much as I can
3.

Mary Ann said...

1. Getting through medical school with the grades to be whatever doctor I want to be.
2. Have children with a working epidural. (Oh and have them be healthy and raise them to be decent human beings as well)
3. Visit as many parts of US and foreign countries as possible
4. Laugh hard and often
5. Surround myself with people who love me and who I love.

rich said...

I think Kathryn is dead on. We used to hear “You can be anything you want if you are willing to work hard to get there.” Somehow the last half has been lost lately.
That being said, here’s my five
1. Call bullshit when I see it instead of letting it go. I need to be less Milton Waddams and more, I don’t know maybe Jello Biafra. (Extra points if you didn’t have to Google either, but no shame if you did)
2. Travel more especially to Eastern Europe, Machu Picchu, and D-fucking-C-for-god’s-sake
3. Live in some other country
4. Skydive
5. Oh yeah, and raise a kid that doesn’t suck.

Mariel said...

1. Tour Europe
2. Become a scriptorian
3. Beat my husband in golf
4. Know ALL things plants
5. Raise all my children to know how to be happy and know that they are loved.

Fun blog!

Mariel
www.oneshetwoshe.blogspot.com

Stesha said...

Great post (and video clips)!

Did you notice that something has been missing from your blog? It might have appeared around the time I stopped commenting? I’m sorry about all that. I took a little hiatus from the blogosphere, but I couldn’t stay away too long. After a break, I had to come by again and see what you’ve been up to.

Glad that I did. I'm not sure what my five things are...but I will definitely be giving it some thought.

-Francesca

Christine said...

I can't think of my five things.
What does that mean?

Monday, March 23, 2009

List five things to do before you die.

Every time I see a prompt like this I start with, "Does someone know something I don't know about my death?" which then leads to, "How much time do I have left, because if it's a lot I might list more grandiose things. If not, I'll be sure to list relatively attainable things so that I can check them off the list and then feel fulfilled."

And therein lies the problem. Shouldn't dreams be attainable ones, or should we say (and lie to ourselves a little) that we can do anything - that all things, big and small are within reach?

My students were taught "You can do anything you set your mind to." And then rainbows and kittens shoot out of their asses. When I hear them say this, I usually cough "bullshit" under my breath. Today it came out as "That's a bunch of crap. You can't do anything you set your mind to!"

They countered with (and I'm not kidding with this), "Ms. Haag! Why do you have to be such a Negative Nancy!"

"OK, first of all, where did you find the time machine that took you back to the time period when people (moms) said 'Negative Nancy?," I rhetorically asked, "and secondly, I'm not being negative. I'm being truthful. You cannot be or do anything you want. It's called the real world, gang. Welcome to it."

They acted like I had just told them the truth about the Tooth Fairy - that their parents were not the Tooth Fairy's 'helpers' at all, that they had been tricked into believing something completely and utterly bogus - like believing that one can be anything he or she wants, for example.

They mumbled that no matter what I said, they actually could do anything. I think they were kicking rocks down the street in their imaginations. I mean, how dare someone - a teacher, no less - tell them that they can't be whatever they want!

I said, "Look. I would love to be a professional musician. But it's not going to happen. I don't have the talent."

"Well, get to practicing, Mrs. Haag, and you can be," one said. "Plus, you're Ms. Haag!" said another bright-eyed boy, as if I really were the beloved, magical Tooth Fairy in a shabby teacher disguise.

May I remind you that I teach seniors? These "kids" are 17 and 18 years old - eligible to vote and to carry a weapon for the US military.

I suppose there is still some illusion about what they can and can't do. For example, they believe they are invincible and can race a car at 100 mph in traffic and not hurt anyone. They believe that they don't have to do any classwork and still graduate (they aren't too far off on this one, thanks to our lovely education system). So maybe it isn't such a leap to think that they can one day snap their fingers and be superheros and rock stars and professional athletes.

But I think it is irrational and counterproductive, even, to tell them they can do or be anything, because doesn't that immediately set them up for certain failure? I might be more amendable to using the word "try" instead of "do" or "be." Maybe.

The conversation pretty much ended with me saying, "Um OK," seeing as I was obviously going nowhere fast.

All of this occurred to me as I was thinking of my list of 5 things just now.

So here they are, grain of salt included:

1. Climb Maccu Piccu
2. Live in a different country for a while
3. Learn how to play the guitar
4. Raise a kind, mindful son
5. Become as magical and inspirational as the Tooth Fairy

Now that I have sufficiently stomped your dreams and aspirations into the ground, what are your five things?

16 comments:

Patty said...

Wow that's tough. I love your number 5. I ditto that.

1. Inspire some of my students to become teachers
2. Teach overseas
3. Visit the Taj Mahal
4. Be loved and love another unconditionally
5. Continue my friendships with the handful of best friends I have

Great post!

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

I'm with you (if lucky, literally) on #1, and I know a guy who can help you with #3.

I'll have to scrub the negativity callous off my psyche and come back later with my 5.

Kathy B! said...

1. Be patient
2. Accomplish all of the great ideas ( good intentions) that I want to do but never have the time to do.
3. Go to medical school.
4. That's all..
5. ...I've got :)

Laura said...

I'm with Wern, need to scratch something and get back with you on my 5.

I love your #5 also.

I guess I'm still naive and think that you should dream really big and believe you can attain it. So I guess I'm in between where your students are and where you are on this topic.

And that's coming from a pessimist.

Amy said...

What a nice post.
1. Being a great Mom to my child(ren)
2. Giving Love to my Husband
3. Travel
4. Learning
5. Keeping Friends

Ginger said...

Patty - Awesome list! I'm with you on #2, for sure and 4 and 5, I hope, are a given!

Fougs - Lets plan #1! For #3, are you talking about Jamie? B/C I wold be intimidated..
Can't wait to see your list!
(and write your story!)


Kathy - Your #1 is so freaking hard for me! I admire that you put it on your list! And medical school? WOW. You rock!

Laura - I'm glad you're not jaded enough to buy into my blatent pessimism!! :) I look forward to seeing your list!

Amy - You're already accomplishing your list, especially #1! And how brave of you to say child(ren). I'm definitely not that brave.. :)

Cassie said...

1 Visit all 7 wonders of the world (and then some)
2. Reach retirement age and be able to live comfortably
3. Watch my daughter grow into the strong woman I know is inside her.
4. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up
5. Go back to school for something.That's may sad little list. Have a great day and thanks for helpling get the old bean working this morning.

Ron said...

1. Love my wife as Christ loves the church (sacrificially).
2. Love my children unconditionally.
3. Laugh, cry and care deeply each day.
4. Minister to others using my spiritual gift of encouragement.
5. Take my wife on a carribean vacation to celebrate 15 years of marriage.

The Blonde Duck said...

Awww. Poor kids.

I'm amazed you're envious of my job. It's a scary time in the journalism world. Most of us envy ya'll.

Kathryn said...

I think I know where you are coming from as far as saying that believing we can be or do anything we want is unrealistic, but at the same time I believe strong will and determination can get you what you want. Even if what you want is something that requires "talent," like being a musician.

It's important to remember that if people have true, deep-seated dreams, they CAN and WILL achieve them through hard work and perseverance. It's when 17 year old high schoolers say "I want to be President" with no real conviction and claim that they can do it that it becomes the problem.

Maybe I'm an idealist (though I've never thought of myself that way) but I dream as large as I like. And I will accomplish the goals I set for myself. One way or another.

That said, I really do think that many high schoolers take that adage as "I can do or be anything I want....with no effort or work." rather than "I can do or be anything I want with enough determination." Perhaps that is a more accurate way of looking at it.

Though obviously, people must be aware of their individual handicaps - I can't be a professional ice skater because I have a serious knee injury...that aside, I think we can accomplish whatever we fully set our minds to.

My five:

1. Stage Manage on Broadway
2. Live in New York with my best friend, Jessica
3. Travel to India
4. Take a Year Off and Backpack Overseas the whole time
5. Love as much as I can
3.

Mary Ann said...

1. Getting through medical school with the grades to be whatever doctor I want to be.
2. Have children with a working epidural. (Oh and have them be healthy and raise them to be decent human beings as well)
3. Visit as many parts of US and foreign countries as possible
4. Laugh hard and often
5. Surround myself with people who love me and who I love.

rich said...

I think Kathryn is dead on. We used to hear “You can be anything you want if you are willing to work hard to get there.” Somehow the last half has been lost lately.
That being said, here’s my five
1. Call bullshit when I see it instead of letting it go. I need to be less Milton Waddams and more, I don’t know maybe Jello Biafra. (Extra points if you didn’t have to Google either, but no shame if you did)
2. Travel more especially to Eastern Europe, Machu Picchu, and D-fucking-C-for-god’s-sake
3. Live in some other country
4. Skydive
5. Oh yeah, and raise a kid that doesn’t suck.

Mariel said...

1. Tour Europe
2. Become a scriptorian
3. Beat my husband in golf
4. Know ALL things plants
5. Raise all my children to know how to be happy and know that they are loved.

Fun blog!

Mariel
www.oneshetwoshe.blogspot.com

Stesha said...

Great post (and video clips)!

Did you notice that something has been missing from your blog? It might have appeared around the time I stopped commenting? I’m sorry about all that. I took a little hiatus from the blogosphere, but I couldn’t stay away too long. After a break, I had to come by again and see what you’ve been up to.

Glad that I did. I'm not sure what my five things are...but I will definitely be giving it some thought.

-Francesca

Christine said...

I can't think of my five things.
What does that mean?