Through the course of my life I have been very blessed by a handful of mentors. People who have taken me in hand and have taught me things… not just “how to” things, but also “smarten up” things, and “don’t be stupid” things. They have not always been easy lessons, but in hindsight, I can tell you that these have been very good lessons and have helped to shape who and what I am, and how I approach things. Contrary to what many believe, I am not fearless, but I have learned that sometimes, deep down there is a stirring inside that tells me “Ok Mitchell, do this”, and I will tell you that everytime I have given voice to that stirring, my life has become better. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t petrified, but it does mean that I did it anyway.
The year I was 26 I lost my mind. It wasn’t a wonderful time in my life. In fact, it was a very dark and scary place where I often found myself sitting in the dark and crying and simply not knowing what I was to do. About anything. I remember one particular night. It was raining and the wind was howling and it was one of those nights where you wished you could spur on dawn, but knew that there was no way it was to do be done. And I remember feeling that stir, where I knew that somewhere, I needed to change and I said aloud “Lord, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be here anymore.” I listened.
In September of 1999 I went bungy jumping in Nanaimo, BC. I was petrified. So scared in fact that I could hardly walk on the gang plank (that was about 200 ft up and crossed over a river), let alone look over the side. I was frozen in my fear and nearly couldn’t think straight because of it. It didn’t matter who else was doing it. It didn’t matter who wasn’t. All that I knew and could understand was that in that moment I couldn’t move because of my fear. So I jumped.
You have to understand that this was such a pivitol moment in my definition of who I was that I can still, to this moment thirteen years later, remember the exact moment my feet left the platform and my entire self was touching nothing. And what I learned was that inside of my fear there was a fearlessness… and a lightness. And since that moment, in all those times where I wanted to hide my head and I knew that there were hard decisions, and talks, and deciding times, there would be a lightness that followed because I knew that somewhere deep inside, I was brave.
In returning to the year I lost my mind, I did find it again. I didn’t get it back overnight, but I am thankful to say that I was able to go home and spend a summer on the river and its healing waters. I was taken under the wing of Valerie who loved me like I was one of her own. And as we all know, when you love someone, it doesn’t mean you don’t have moments where you want to choke them. And she loved me through it all, and taught me many things. And I took time to rest and just be and figure out who and what I was, and who I was meant to be. Because I wasn’t meant to be fearful. I was meant to be brave.
Yesterday I had to deal with two boys in juniour high. Smart boys making stupid decisions. And what they learned very quickly was that I asked them twice and that was it. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they hadn’t heard me the first time, but the second time was when enough was enough. So I wrote them up and the principal called them in. He said “Mrs. Carson these two boys have something to say to you” so I went over and was given a half-way, very half hearted apology in which I cut them off. I told them that if an apology wasn’t sincere that there was no point in wasting their breath or my time. That being sorry was one thing, but if they weren’t then I wasn’t going to shrivel up and blow away in the wind, but what was important was that I was the teacher and part of my job was to keep them and other students safe. It was their job to listen when I said smarten up, and I wasn’t telling them that because I thought they were stupid. I was telling them that because I knew that they weren’t. And life always seemed easier when your head wasn’t up your hindend.
So here are to lessons learned sometimes the hard way. To smart kids doing dumb stuff and teachers who appreciate it because I was a smart kid doing dumb stuff too. And lived to tell about it because I had people who loved me enough to tell me to dig my head out of my butt. 🙂