Truth: I do not have naturally pretty handwriting.
Also true: I am often complimented on my handwriting.
I was a high school teacher in the age of overhead projectors. I had those little clear plastic sheets that I would write essential notes on for my class and then my students would take notes from mine as I lectured the class on things that I barely remember any more like the Stamp Act and The Battle of Wounded Knee.
My kids HATED my handwriting and bitched about it all the time.
“If you want us to be able to get down these notes, you are gonna have to write neater,” someone would inevitably say to me at some point during a lecture.
And because I wanted my kids to get down those notes so that they would have something to study so that they could pass my class and the state exam and actually become seniors in high school (total pressure there as my class was directly tied to their route to high school graduation), I decided that I needed to relearn how to write. And so I did. I totally taught myself a whole new personal font.
But, as you might imagine, this post has very little to do with handwriting.
It has more to do with finding out that that the way we are doing something is not serving our end objective and then actively working towards a change so that we are more able to reach our goals.
My goal, back then, was to teach in a way that allowed my students to learn how to be in the world, how to be vital, giving community members, how to be self-aware and to keep themselves safe and, also, what they needed to know about history in order to be wise, responsible citizens of the world (who are capable of passing a state exam that determines whether or not they are on track for high school graduation).
And so I did a lot of things to achieve my goals: developed connections with each of my students so that they understood that I found them worthy and so that they felt seen and heard and understood and knew that they always had a place to turn, came up with and held all of us- including me- to community norms of how to be a family in the space of 90 minutes of a class period, demanded their thoughtful reflection on a variety of issues and pushed them to be more and more aware of themselves, learned everything I could about moments in history and how to teach them to make their learning more interesting and evocative, and then, ultimately, taught myself how to write again at 23 so that they could capture the highlights of things and be more easily able to study their notes.
When we want something, it is amazing what we will do to achieve it.
Sometimes, we tell ourselves that we are too old for something, that time has passed us by.
But it hasn’t. There is still time if you are willing to give it energy.
Just this past Saturday I taught a writing workshop and one participant was 77, retired, and ready to get everything she had to say out. She is going to start blogging at 77 because she has so much to say. Thoughtfully she said, “The time goes so quickly. I don’t know how much I have left. I need to get started.”
And there you have it. It is just that simple.
We do have time. It is not too late. But we do not have all the time in the world.
What are you waiting to do? What do you most need to do but don’t believe you can?
Insist to yourself that those limits are self-imposed. Push yourself past them. Insist that you get out of life what you most want, what you have most dreamed.
And then go after it. You have not run out of time yet, but, if you keep waiting, you will.