The old version of my blog was titled “The Thinking Specialist: The Musings of Heterological Teacher,” and when I had originally published that blog, I was using the term “heterological” very loosely. I think I was partially trying to play on the idea of sexual orientiation, which in hindsight, was rather stupid, but when I found out what it actually meant, it seemed to fit, so I let it stay.
Heterological, in one definition, refers to words or thoughts that don’t really apply to themselves. For instance, the word “long” isn’t actually a “long” word, or the word “verb” isn’t actually a “verb.” When you think about it, it’s almost… well… ironic, or coincidental. Whatever. It strikes you as funny. That’s the point.
It seems that presence is a heterological concept, in and of itself, and it is something that I am so desperately lacking right now. I suppose in my neverending quest to achieve presence, I am only sending myself on a downward spiral of absence. I am thinking too far forward, I am letting the past confine me, and spending very little time in the present, which is ironically, where I always am… literally.
What makes presence heterological is that presence cannot be recognized when you are actually present, because once presence is achieved, you are no longer actually present.
Presence can only be recognized when looked upon retrospectively, making it seem nearly impossible to work on achieving presence… or so I thought. It seemed to me that if one is working on achieving presence, then that person is thinking about being present. Which makes them “absent,” if you will.
Glad you will. I will, too.
However, I was reminded tonight that there actually is a strong correlation between gratitude and presence, and that gratitude actually helps to build new neuropathways in your mind, helping you achieve a heightened presence, and as a result, more happiness.
And then I thought back to September.
I told myself in September that I would be doing 30 Days of Gratitude, at which I completely failed. I didn’t even get to day one. I’m not really sure why I completely failed, but I seemed to let it not be a priority. Perhaps I thought it would be boring to read, or perhaps I was bored myself at the thought of writing it, but now, it seems to be an inherent need in this current phase of my life. So I’m going to try it. Instead of working directly on presence, I am going to work on gratitude, in hopes that presence is a byproduct of my gratitude.
Just like when I wrote “30 Things I’m Scared to Say,” I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of it, and I feel the same way now. I hope to challenge myself to find things for which I’m grateful, even if those things are as simple as my morning cup of coffee, for which I am SO grateful… and I think my students are, as well.
So let’s get started. And this time I’m going to follow through.
I’m grateful for my mom. Yeah, I know predictable, but it’s probably because you don’t know my mom. My mom is selfless and strong; she is patient, and she is kind. She is warm and welcoming, and she is humble, almost to a fault. Today, she wouldn’t shut up about how proud she was of me (which I’ll admit, I didn’t hate), neglecting to take any bit of credit for my successes, when I attribute a most of who I am and what I stand for to her. And let’s not forget the insane cookie-baking skills that I’ve inherited from her. But bottom line, my mom is the epitome of everything it means to love and care for someone, and I’m grateful that I’ve had a model for what that looks and feels like for the entirety of my existence. And I’m grateful that that will guide me through the rest of my life.
I’m grateful for my students. They drive me absolutely crazy, no doubt, but they also remind me every day what the world has to offer, and what hope looks like. It’s easy to see the beauty the world has to offer when you’re looking at it through the eyes of a child. To them, everything is new, and the entirety of their environment is exciting. But what it really helps to do is remind me that I can find things that are new, I can continue to learn, and that life is a constant timeline of growth and change–change for which we can be grateful, too. Maybe I’m not necessarily grateful for my students, but more for how they symbolize positive change–change that doesn’t always happen for the worse, but change that occurs out of progress and growth. Being a teacher has made me learn, grow, and change in the best ways possible; ironically, it has made me a learner–an endlessly dynamic being–and I am forever grateful for that.
I’m grateful for words. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to fully capture what I mean by this in a paragraph, but I’m sure as hell going to try. Maybe I’m not as grateful for words, in general, but I’m more so grateful for my words. I look at how much I’ve grown and changed through using my words. Through speaking, writing, singing, and thinking–all in words–I have discovered so much about myself. And what’s beautiful about it, is that even the horribly stupid things I’ve said–the things I wish I could take back, the things that hurt someone else, the things that sounded asinine the second they danced off my tongue and crawled out of my lips, the things that felt like a mistake even before they escaped from my voicebox or from my fingers–I managed to communicate something, make what was only a figment within my mind real, for at least a second. Making my thoughts tangible through words has made me less afraid of my own thoughts. It has helped me to grow.
It seems that today, I’m grateful for the things that have helped me to grow as a person–the things that have helped me amount to the man I am today.
I’d love to know what you’re grateful for, too. Comment, and share, please–just as I’m sharing with you!