When you don’t understand, you depend on reality.Bodhidharma
Like me, many of my students are young boys living in deprived areas of London – what we know as the ends. Areas housed with single parents surviving on benefits or income(s) from shitty high turnover jobs. Our social and economic circumstances project a reality many of us aren’t educated on, yet required to transcend. We need to make it, out. And, so we are taught to be, to please, and not to live. Our voice is stifled, our thoughts repressed, our feelings, well, what about them?
“Sir, why are you always smiling?”
How much time do you have?
Let’s just say, now, I wake up to each day with the intent to learn, to treat each day as its own and to value each experience, irrespective of its form. For example, I appreciate the simple fact that you asked me that question.
Like you, I’m just a nervous little shit. Unlike you, I’m gangsta wid’ it.
As an employee, I’ve accepted the responsibility of supporting your growth within the educational system. As your behavioural mentor, I have access to a written report on you, your past, and current circumstances. I know where you call home, who you share it with, and the effects of what goes on behind closed doors. And, with that information, I am tasked with facilitating effective workshops and interventions to aid your learning. Now, as a person, – the weirdo that stands right before you – I know you and I aren’t so different.
“Ok. But, sir, why did you come to this school? It’s shit.”
In short, I want to be here.
It has been over a year since I walked out of my previous role in retail – a tedious, mind-numbing role as just another employee. I could no longer ignore the nagging desire to pursue more, and, well…here I am. And, I understand why you think the school is ‘shit’ and undesirable. I too see the dysfunction within the senior leadership team, and I’m well aware of its trickle-down effects. But, unlike you, I have the power to up and leave and never return – muahaha.
“Sir, can you mentor me?”
Aite, let the games begin.
I make sure my students understand my role is not an out of lesson pass. I’m here to listen; to help organise their thoughts, and help them focus on what they can control – their reality. My timer will be on, and we’ll only have 20 minutes. There will be no phones, no sweets and zero noise about our ’shit’ school – I get it, it’s shit, tell me something new.
“Ugh, sir, you always take things so seriously.”
You gon’ sit there and listen, ain’t you?
I have a deep level of respect for my students, and no matter how chaotic they can be, I will always find innocence in their behaviour. That is not to say I turn a blind eye to their disruptive ways. I mean, If they’re in the wrong, we will discuss what triggered the reaction. And, if they’re in the right and are unfairly sanctioned, I’m gon’ teach them how to play the game.
“Yeah, but, sir, i didn’t do anything wrong, and now i’m getting in trouble for no reason.”
No, you did, but you still have every right to be upset.
And the reality is, we’ve been here before. And, as much as you’d like to label the situation as unjust, you must learn to take responsibility for the part you play. You see, despite your awareness of the circumstances you’re in, you continue to let your pride get the better of you. It seems as though you simply cannot be present without having a point to prove. And thus, we find ourselves here, dealing with the consequences of your actions.
Yeah, but what?
”Aye, sir, you know if you leave, yeah? You know I’ll start moving mad, you know?”
I must admit, it will also take me some time to adjust to the change. But, while my story must continue to develop down a separate, conscious stream, it shouldn’t, and I trust that it will not veer you off your course. Your story must be told, and I trust that you will take responsibility for how you want the chapters to appear.
“Yeah. Sir, you’re waffling, and I still hate you.”
I’m going to miss you too.
I acknowledge your frustration, and the least you deserve is my explanation. I’m not here to dismiss how you feel, nor am I here to protect you from what you feel. I just know that I must run down and discuss, with you, my reasons. I do so in hope that it provides a better understanding of how and what it is you feel.
And what do we do when we are uncertain about how, and what it is we feel?
“We breath, as we feel.”
And we do so, because?
“Because it allows us to gather our thoughts. And, boy does that shit feel good.”
When you don’t understand, you depend on reality, when you do understand, reality depends on you.Bodhidharma
Two and a half weeks before my 25th birthday, I attended a dinner with a Palestinian youth group. They were on a speaking tour, to share their work to preserve the heritage of Bedouin Palestine communities for future generations. Overwhelmed by it all, I barely uttered a word, and it wasn’t until I had to leave that I managed to form words to express how I’d felt. “…Thank you for taking on the responsibility.” Hit with a sense of relief, I stood from the table and made my way to the station. As I sat on the District line to Upminster, I noticed a shift in my breathing pattern. My heart race increased, and my eyes began to swell. Thank you for taking on the responsibility. As I scanned the packed train, waiting on an eye to help discourage the tears, I felt the warm pressure of my eyelids. The tears began to flow – each one, a symbol of gratitude.