Sunday, April 29, 2012

Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

(Or "The Joy of Giving," but quoting the Chili Peppers has a much cooler ring to it.)

I'm a public school English teacher in New Jersey. In addition to English, I have been teaching Creative Writing for the past six years now. Last week my supervisor and I sat down to discuss my schedule for next year. Due to enrollment and other factors, I had a choice to make: I could continue teaching Creative Writing or English. I chose the latter.

One of the main reasons I decided to pass on the torch, so to speak, is that there is a younger teacher who I know would love to teach Creative Writing. He's energetic, enthusiastic, and an avid writer. That and he would be great at teaching the class.

After all the decisions were made, I spoke to him and could veritably sense the excitement emanating from him. It felt great. While the class wasn't mine to give, nothing in life really is. At best, we are stewards of titles, possessions, roles, and objects. Life allows us a short lease on these things that we think are ours, but in reality, we never really own anything. Not our cars, our jobs, or even our lives.

Impermanence is the great equalizer.

And yet I still felt joy at his happiness, much more than I experience when I receive anything for myself. So I learned something very valuable: if you really want to be selfish, give something away. The pleasure you receive from making someone else happy is so much better than trying to make yourself happy.

Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: Jonathan_W.

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