It was this time last year that my employer would hire a new English teach to replace me. I was living in Guilin, China at the time. I had the most adult bedroom there… I had found little Christmas lights and taped them above my bed in a spiral fitting the very evolutionary turn my life was taking. I loved that damn bedroom! Anyways… I had indeed cursed in the classroom. Fuck those Chinese students! They were dicks and needed to be told. Right?! 17 year olds need the HAMMER! My compassion, my capacity as a skilled teacher, had run dry after only three months and I lost it one day in the classroom. As sensitive as I am, the tears were plentiful.
After I was hired this past summer one of my dearest friends and fellow choir members looked at me with an entire dose of love and intensity and told me that I would be just fine, I would even do great, “Just don’t curse in the classroom, Adam.” To which I respond with a nervous, enthusiastic laugh, “Right!” Nervous, because I didn’t walk into school that day in China and think…”You know what? Fuck those kids! I’m going to let them have it today for being so disrespectful to me!” I arrived that day to succeed and I was absolutely powerless over my actions that led to my termination. It’s super humbling to realize the truth. It’s true that I had little support a year ago. It was a new program and my enthusiasm to succeed would only carry me so far.
I remember interviewing for my current position over the summer and being asked to give an account of a challenging circumstance in my life and how I handled it. I talked to my hiring committee about China and my termination (in vague enough terms – I left out the particular details of the cursing and the incident with the little child – he didn’t die). I explained how challenging it was to fail, to see the power of my enthusiasm exhausted in its attempt to compensate for lack of skill, of experience. Every teacher I spoke with assured me that I was on the right path – the first class is always the hardest.
A year later, I am forced to acknowledge a deep gratitude for the support around me. I am still employed, still… Still, it seems that the course of my evolution – in character, profession, skill, manifestation, in power and overcoming – winds cyclical. The very forces that I have struggled with over the past month are of the same character of those that shook me down a year ago. And I fear that I will relive another termination – a fear, not necessarily grounded in any reality. The difference is reality.
I get to keep showing up with my best and let God decide… Reality is the velvet hammer.