I walked into Parco the other day and my barista friend handed me an inter-office envelope, a book, Against the American Dream: Essays On Charles Bukowski, which had been left for me by my professor friend.
"Oh, good, I've been waiting for that!" I said. I looked around for a plug to charge up my Blackberry and sat down with my carpenter friend who I was meeting there to give keys.
"Wow, this is cool. This is now feeling, officially, like my office," I joked.
I love my new office. I visit it at my leisure, when I feel like it, and I am most often passionately engaged in the work I do there, the work of soliciting the opinions of real people who are out in the world dealing with real problems, real issues, people who are really trying and whom I try to reward with a little gold star.
I left my "office" after a brief stay, on to chaperoning a first-grade field trip to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Our first stop was to visit Fantasia, the Museum's 20-foot-long albino Burmese Python, who was putting on quite a show in readiness for her weekly feeding, small pigs we were lucky enough to miss being poured down her gullet. We also got to see--and touch--a beautifully-patterned Ball Python.
As I stroked its soft skin, I said longingly to the Museum guide holding her, "Ummmm, I want a purse just like this..."
She gasped and held the beloved snake close up to her face protectively. "No!" she said. I laughed. "Not her, just something LIKE her," I said. "You can't create patterns as beautiful as those found in nature."
She agreed. "You should see her right after she sheds her skin," she said, "Gorgeous." I gave the guide a gold star. Her love of the animals she taught us about shown through. The kids were mesmerized.
We wended our way around the newly renovated museum, visiting mock-ups of various ethnic shops found around Brooklyn as well as learning a lot about local nature, and ended up at the cafe for lunch. As I picked out my lunch, having forgotten a brown bag for myself, I overheard two of the cafe workers in discussion.
"I'm sorry," said the one young girl, clearly complaining about someone, "but if you're a teacher, you have to have a passion for it, you can't just go through the motions."
I nodded in assent. "But that's true of most jobs, isn't it? Wouldn't it be great if everybody had a passion for their job? The problem is, sometimes, after you've done it a while, it stops being interesting, you stop being interested in it."
"You have to find new ways to make it interesting," the cashier piped up.
"Agreed," I said. "And, with teachers, it does make a big difference when the teacher is enthusiastic. The kids know it," I said, thinking of the enthusiastic woman who had taught us all about snakes and other animals and the kids' enthusiastic response to her.
"Well, I'm going to get my bachelor's, and then I'm going to teach, passionately," the young girl said definitively, passionately.
"That's awesome, good luck," I said. I gave her and her friend gold stars, which they took gratefully.
"You have to at least try," the would-be teacher said. I agreed.