They teach a lot of things in school.
They teach us how to read and write and how to add, subtract and multiply. They teach us about history and about who was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence which is, of course, John Hancock of Massachusetts.
We learned about the colors of the rainbow and the names of the planets. We learned about the Earth as it is and as it was. We learned things like geometry or algebra and calculus, which at the time – I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered “Is any of this necessary,” and questions if any of this would be something I needed in my future life.
I suppose I have to say that my biggest lessons in school were outside of the classroom. Or should I call this for what it is? Should I say that my lesson in the official learning systems and traditional education facilities were learned in the hallways? Or what about the bathrooms or the locker rooms? What about the lockers and how our social associations became a description of who we were?
We certainly learned this in school. Didn’t we?
We learned about socialization. We learned about the different levels of popularity or the different echelons of cool. We learned about the common forms of beauty and how to follow a pack-like mindset. This is pretty. This is not. This is cool and this is a guaranteed way to never be included or invited, wanted or desired. Isn’t this a lesson in school?
As a person who is unafraid to ask questions and find truths, I have learned that this idea is common though. I have learned about the cool tables in the cafeteria and, in fact, I’ve had the honor and opportunity to speak in front of classrooms of all ages. As I reported my findings, I noticed a sea of heads, sitting in their perspective places and in their chairs, or in their personal uniforms, which we call personalities and as I spoke, I watched an overwhelming number of students nodding their head. I learned about the pecking orders of social dominance (or submission) and the truthfulness and verities of life in the common race of time, space and the need to find oneself in whichever way possible.
This is where I learned about the varying struggles of body-type envies or the assorted types of personalities which cannot be learned while isolated or while remotely home schooled – which I can attest to as fact because in its briefness of an emotional episode, I was at home for a large part of a school year. I was isolated yet the world went on around me. Better yet, the world went on without me.
Little kids got together at birthday parties or parties of any kind. But not me. Without the understanding of socialization, kids who miss this will miss out on the important lessons of social grace or the social cues which are essential when we discuss how to go along to get along.
No one ever told me the right or wrong way to shake someone’s hand. No one ever showed me how to tell someone that I feel a strong sense of affection for a person of my choice – or even love. There are no classes in school about this.
No one teaches how to be happy in school; yet, I say this to you and as I do, I fully and completely admit that quite possibly, I’d have gone to class if there was ever a class on this.
There are no classes that normalize or humanize the doubts and the troubles or the extraordinary or the dumbfoundedness we experience when we stumble across a new heartbreak or let down.
There are no classes that teach how to handle a broken heart and I say this with all I have. I say that as a steadfast and heartfelt truth and why? I say this because I’ve had to handle a broken heart more than I’ve ever had to find the coefficient of determination or the correlation of X.
They never teach us how to support the way we laugh or play or have fun. No one teaches that hey, it’s okay to be you. No one teaches that the differences between us are perfectly acceptable and that, in fact, it takes all shapes and sizes, colors, beliefs and types to make the world go round . . .
If I had the right or the choice or the ability to encourage, I suppose I would offer this as a class as a means to outshine the natural tendencies which our minds focus upon. For example, the five fingers of rejective thinking which are blame, shame, guilt, fault and (as I’ve noted in pages before, the mother of all fuckers) regret.
If I could teach a class to people at a young age or at any age, then I would like to offer a simple curriculum of how to be happy.
How would that be?
I could argue that the lessons in this class offer more validity than my 8th grade Earth Science class or the lessons I was taught by a bullyish teacher who promised that I would be dead by the time I graduate high school and that he would not only laugh but dance at my grave. (Yes, that really happened.)
I see a change in our learning institutions and I see a system of wrong turns. I see a great stride to improve our social acceptance yet I see a miss when learning the lessons about how to be happy as you are. How do you “be” happy, even in spite of judgments from others who might oppose you, as you are, or how do you remain happy when someone else opposes your version of happiness?
How to be happy . . .
That’s the class.
Here I am, world. I’m in the 50th year of my life and I am still learning and still working on finding a tutor who can help me understand this subject.
At the same time, I would like to share what I have learned. I would like to teach. I want to show what’s worked for me and what I’ve found while doing my research. And, that it’s okay if something different works for you.
I have spoken with countless people and I plan to speak to countless more. I want to understand more and by this I mean, I want to internally understand. I want to grow my empathy so that I can gather my lessons as data; in which case, I can understand more options and ways to create motivations to improve. I want to support the right to overcome, to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to shine brighter than the dimness of our personal limitations.
I have made it a point to speak with as many people as possible; to learn about their anxieties or their struggles with panic. I have made it a point to speak with people who believe they are somehow unfit or underserved or under-cared for or unfairly sentenced by a cancer known as stigma.
I want to learn how to renegotiate the terms of the mind and how to redirect our thought patterns by way of creating new possibilities – to promote and to effectively search for happiness while celebrating exactly who we are as perfectly imperfect, beautiful and loving.
I want to build a lesson plan which teaches us to be happy. They never taught me this in school and, quite honestly, I think this curriculum might just save a life or two. This would promote stronger interactions with the understanding that no one is above or below and that popularity is fleeting; however, our sense of self is everlasting. As a means of better investing, I want to teach how long term investments are better served than how to be the cool kid on the bus.
I believe these lessons can save lives. I know it would have saved mine. I know that had I been taught certain lessons and supported in certain ways, I’d have saved years of my life without the waste of people pleasing or shining apples just to get attention. Or at the opposite end, if no one noticed – I acted out, just to believe that I was seen.
Tell me again how this is not true and then I will offer the suggestion to look in the mirror or consider how we vie for attention or look to stand out or be accepted.
I have ideas on how to build this curriculum but I don’t want to overstay my welcome. I don’t want to leave too early and miss out on the miracles. I guess this means it’s okay for me to close this journal for now . . . and move on to the next one.
Thanks for being here for me through this.
God, you mean so much to me.