So on Thursday, I asked my ESL Students [English as a Second Language], adult learners (evening classes), a question—after the class watched the first half of the film, Julie & Julia. The question was, “What is it that you like to do? I mean, what is that thing that you’d like to do, and getting paid for it (in any amount, large or small) would only be a bonus?
Well, first, the answer-attempts came slow then emerged, hesitant. That’s because first, in one’s head, answers had to be translated out of one’s native language into English. Then the students had to cast down their primal-dream focus, which is to survive a new culture, a new life, and a new language. Apparently, when one has all of that to do there’s little time left for entertaining the career dream or the being-called-to-a-passion dream, and there’s no time to coordinate the corresponding what ifs.
But in class, I encourage conversation; and so some answers began to cautiously deliver:
“Conceptualizing buildings/Engineering” (working the translation was a trial, but worth it)
“Creating themed party favors” (trial, number two)
While the answers sweetened the air, most of the students still managed to dodge. But I said, “No worries,” because I promised to assault them with the question on next Thursday. They smiled and said they’d show up because they’re polite. They’ll actually show up because of commitment.
But here’s one gentleman’s answer: He said, “I like to take care of my family.” Then he sat back, satisfied and he smiled. His expression said, “I gotcha!”
I smiled and buzzed, “Annnnnnnt. Wrong answer.” He laughed. He understood.
After class, he came up to me and said, “I’ve been in this country a while now, really. But when we first got here, I had to feed my family; provide shelter, protect them – as I have to do now.” He said it with a polite smile supported by a pause and a negative headshake. “There was no time to …” His look finalized. I understood. But next week, I will still present the weighty question again.
Sadly, that question is a hard one for many, universally. Often, we don’t feel we have the right to such frivolous happiness like feeding a heartfelt passion, a calling or a gift—at least not in the broad daylight where others can see and/or hear.
Personal Observation: Sometimes maturity sets in and we factually assume (that means out loud in front of witnesses) our right to be happy and fulfilled. I mean, as a day-job perk. And then we may even begin to embark on the tangible journey to make it so using faith, diligence and new direction. However, sometimes, when that light bulb finally shines, we’ve already let decades slither by. Then we tend to get caught up burning a few more prime-time WATTS being pissed off about it. I’m just sayin’.
So while you’ve got some wattage still left in you (i.e., life), can you answer the question? What is it that you’d like to do (whether or not money is an object to behold)? I mean, really—no pie-in-the-sky, please. Put some real personal, tangible thought into it. Lemmeknow.