Friday, July 24, 2015

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

I guess this is supposed to mean don't live under the mistaken impression that you cannot be replaced; that without your contribution, things will not function.

Okay. Right. I get that. I'm fine with being forgotten. I'm fine with passing on and allowing the planet to fill with new people. But while I am here, I do not think there is anything wrong with trying to make the most valuable contribution that I can.

The headmaster at the school where I used to work, quoted this to me on more than one occasion. It upset me. As a business model, it's great. You don't want the success of your organization to rely on any one small part. But should you tell your employees that? Why? So they don't feel too important? So they don't strive to make a unique contribution? It sounds like: Remember! You are merely a cog in a machine! We can find a replacement for that piece any time!

What the fuck! I was disgusted that my boss said that to me. I wasn't trying to stand out or patent some secret teaching method only I could do. I was doing my fucking best, constantly striving to improve. I will always do this! I am a problem solver. It's what I do. As a teacher, my role was to bring out the best in each individual student. I asked myself how do I most effectively communicate the information he or she needs. I want to help them develop the skills and tools they will need and use for years to come. Am I the only one who can do that? No. Did I want to do an awesome job at it? Yes. Why? Because I want to grow and learn and be effective for my entire life? I am not a sit back and smell the roses type.

I feel pretty good about that today. I feel unique and special and valuable. I've thought a lot about what Dr. Soghoian said to me that day in his office. Although he is certainly correct that everyone can be replaced, it doesn't need to be said. Perhaps it is my cognitive distortion (and please, by all means, feel free to correct me or challenge me to a debate), but the message that those words conveyed to my ears were stop trying to be so good at what you do, you're not special.

I will never lie down and accept that. There are times when that message does run through my head on a loop, an endless tape of criticism, self-loathing, and defeat. That is depression and suicide seems like the only relief. Today I am not feeling that way. Today, even with my disability, I feel capable of making a contribution. I intend to go to my grave doing my best, endeavoring to improve myself, and enjoying the creative process of generating unique solutions. Actually, I'm not even planning to go to a grave. My body will go to a medical school student so even in death someone may learn from me.


Anonymous said...

Hi Aly,
You ARE unique, and special, and valuable. I think your observations are on the money. Death waits for us all but we do not have to accept mediocrity in the meantime.

From everything I have read here over the years (and that's a lot) personally, I reckon your pupils were darned fortunate to have a teacher as motivated, caring, and interested in their own learning needs and welfare as you. Keep on being the best you can because, along with the love of your family and friends it is what life is about. I'm sending my love and best wishes to you from Down Under.
Brett xox

Anonymous said...

I true think that all people (men and women) are valued parts of the human race. Everyone dies, but it is a great loss to the planet every time!

Traumatic Loneliness