Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 12:53:40 -0500 (EST)
Well, on this two month anniversary of Kim and me being "clean." I found lying matter-of-factly, almost camouflaged, amidst the cluttered land-fill of my desk a simple, hand-written letter Kim had written to me. I pick it up nonchalantly and started reading it. With every passing word, I realized this was a letter not to be read casually, and I slowed down. I stopped half way through, I took a deep breath, wiped away a tear or two, unwrapped a Tootsie Pop, and finished reading, grabbing at every word, through the haze of my glassy eyes. I must have re-read it two or three times. I don't think Kim would mind if share it with you:
I am really glad that I made a promise to myself and to you to stop drinking because of the fact that it was really bad for my spirit and my health. I guess I just needed someone to care enough to get me to see what I wanted to see but didn't have the courage to see. No one in my immediate family drinks. So, it was not anything I picked up at home. I drank while in highschool. That is when it started. Hanging around my friends and watching them drink made me want to do it. Well, now I know no one made me do anything. I did it all to myself. I just didn't want to be left out of things and was afraid of being thought of as a jerk. I guess I just didn't that the confidence and strength to take the chance of saying no. I wasn't happy about it, but didn't think I could do anything about until you came along. I made the promise at first just to impress you, but when you proudly showed me your nails after your first manicure and bragged to everyone in the class that the dark purple nail polish on your pinky was a sign of our deal I knew that you weren't bulling me but you were showimg everyone who you realy are. So, I had to do the same. I also saw that pinky was a sign that you needed me as much as I needed you. That feeling of being needed and being something made me that I was important and could do something for others. I made me feel good. That's when I started doing it for myself. Since my promise, I feel renewed and like a better person because I have been clean since the start of the quarter and because I have cleaned my spirit and attitude and body. I'm happier and more honest. I like being myself and being able to turn down drinks. I feel like people respect me more now that I have stopped drinking. I respect myself more. That's more important I think. I have found out that I can handle my problems without the use of a drink and that I don't need a drink to solve my problems which it doesn't anyway. I like that. I used to only drink when something was deeply on my mind or I was depressed. I now have found out because of our deal that there are other ways to have a good time. I feel really GOOD knowing that I have many people, especially you and the others in the class, backing me and believing in me. But, what really make me feel best is that I believe in myself now. I believe now that there's a lump of gold inside me to mine. It makes me wonder that if I have it in me to put a lid on the bottle what lids can I open in myself. I believe that if I can deal with drinking there isn't anything I can't do here in school and every where else. Thanks for caring and believing me and asking me each day if I was clean. You clean today? Happy anniversary.As I dry my eyes, I look--stared is a better term--at my pinky nail, now painted with gold nail polish, and I feel a bit richer than when I got up this morning.
You know, Kim is right. The rich vein of human potential is never absent in anyone. It's there hidden deep, hidden sometimes under an uninviting surface, waiting to be brought upon into the light of day. Teaching, then, is the mining for gold and we teachers are the prospectors whose task is invite students to dig along side us as their own prospectors mining for their own pay dirt.
Imagine if we were all willing to go at a group of students or just one student the way a prospector goes at a mountainside with a pick and shovel, if we believed that everything will go our way regardless of what happens, if we didn't take a discouraging "no" to our dreams, if we weren't deterred by the unassuming and barrenenss of the terrain because we knew that deep within the rock of the students' being lay untold rich abunance of glittering potential.
I have discovered that if we mine students, and help students mine themselves, expecting to find a vein of gold, we both almost always will. Getting to that rich ore, however, isn't something that is done very easily. It takes sweat and effort and endurance. Progress can be slow. The way through the rock can be rocky. Sometimes you have to feel your way in the darkness; sometimes you have to delicately pick; sometimes you have to blast. The rubble has to hauled out. The tunnel has to be shored up. There's going to be the inevitable cave-ins. At times you're battling your aching body and your strained emotions as well as the rock. At times, you feel as if you can't go on. Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes you'll take a wrong turn or your tools will break or you'll faced impenetrable hard rock or can't dig deep enough with the tools you've got.
But, if and when we get down to the bedrock of that student's human potential we strike it rich. And, I have discovered that once a student is aware of the pay dirt of talent inside him/herself, once a student is in touch with the wealth of the particular individuality of his or her own genius, once a student sees the brilliance of his or her selfhood, once a student starts mining the treasure of his or her own unique potential, the vein seldom peters out.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier (912-333-5947) firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History /~\ /\ /\ Valdosta State University /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ Valdosta, Georgia 31698 / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____