“Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.”
“People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.”
To be a teacher is to be cranky at times. The frustrations of educators are well covered elsewhere so I will save you from another airing. Teacher Anne Sullivan can be cranky in her writing. I much prefer the words of Anne’s famed student to those of Anne. But Anne means more to me for a less obvious reason.
Have you ever passed by a place where you previously spent time alone; confused and lost?
I have a place like that. It was near an apartment complex I lived in. It’s a sparse little park that takes up one corner of a busy intersection. At night I would go for walks until my legs just about gave out and then I would stop in that park before I would go back to my apartment and try to sleep.
In my travels I drive by that park sometimes.
More often than not I hit a red light at that intersection. I look over and I see myself sitting there years before; alone at night, on the nondescript bench, as lost as lost could be.
Sometimes my heart aches to console the guy I once was; sitting there alone tortured by inescapable thoughts night after night; trying desperately to find my way out of the intricate and treacherous maze my life had become.
I want to tell that former version of me that it will work out. Not perfect, but alright. Far more good than bad. I don’t want to tell myself the whole story, but just enough to take away the depths of gut wrenching confusion and hopelessness.
Other times I’m stopped at that intersection and I cant help but smile. For 90 seconds I remember how far I’ve come. I drive away grateful as the light turns green.
In that little park is a statue of Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher.
I never talked to Anne on those lonesome nights. But some nights she spoke to me. She said keep trying, don’t give up, it’s possible, you’re gonna break through. She gave me hope that tomorrow might be better. Some nights her words brought true solace and I could walk back to that apartment and sleep a bit.
“My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil’s mind, and behold, all things are changed!”
I know Anne was speaking of her other student when she wrote this in her journal, but she might have meant me. She found a way to help me see and hear what I couldn’t at that difficult time in my life. Through her I was reminded that miracles do happen if you never give up.