The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

Why Do I Write

The other day I was talking with a friend. We were discussing life’s choices and how we both spent far too many years trying to determine what we wanted to do “when we grew up”. And though I’d inadvertently danced around it for a good portion of my career, I finally found what made me happiest – teaching. Well, really more like instructing – you see, I don’t have a degree, so calling myself a teacher wouldn’t be fair to those that do – or would it?

In my younger days, I couldn’t wait to get out of school and into “the real world”. I didn’t have the desire to spend every waking moment “applying” myself for top grades, so a college scholarship was out. And I’d watched my Dad, who put my sister through 3 1/2 years of college (she finished her degree after a couple of kids and became a teacher herself), borrow from every source possible (Beneficial Finance anyone) to do it. By the time it would have been my turn, he’d just gotten back to normal. And even though he would have gone back into debt again, there was no way that I was going to burden him like that. Besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do “when I grew up”.

I suppose if I’d had teachers (or even “a” teacher) that inspired me, things may have turned out differently. But what I got instead were egotistical teachers on power trips, young teachers preaching rebellion, older teachers teaching the “old way” and teachers that were there “just for a paycheck”. There were a few that actually taught – that actually cared about learning. But they were the minority. And me, not having a clue as to what college life was like, was not signing up for 4 more years of the same crap I’d just escaped – no thank you.

I admired my Dad and how far he’d taken himself – from a mail boy to an engineer – spending his whole career with AT&T (before the splits). And he did this all with hard work and a high school degree (he’d dropped out in 10th grade, but finished later because it was a job requirement – drop and finish seems to run in the family I guess). So, not knowing what it was I wanted to do, I decided to follow in Dad’s footsteps and see where it took me – to see what was out there and what I excelled at.

And what I found were co-workers, the real “teachers”, that knew, in depth, a variety of skills and knowledge that they were willing to share. Oh sure, some were “tree huggers” that clung to what they believed was their only “value-add” and refused to share or be helpful. But unlike school, I wasn’t forced to spend time with them – I could seek out those that were willing to “share”. And I did – asking questions, paying attention and applying what I’d learn as best I could.

They say those that can, do. And those that can’t, teach. Well I was lucky enough to have the best of both worlds – I was able to learn from those that can. People who, having had practical application, were probably smarter than most college professors in their given field (corporate tends to hire that way). And it led me to what brought me the most joy – sharing the knowledge I’d learned with others. For me, there’s no greater feeling than seeing someone’s eyes light up when the smoke clears away and a problem that’s eluded them becomes clear.

Which brings us back around to the title of this story – why do I write? Is it because I feel that my opinion matters more or to try and force my views on others? Hardly. I write opinions in an attempt to stimulate thought. Much like the debate team, I take a point and hope that others either expand upon it, or disagree with it in meaningful dialog, not just a “bitch session”. Because, after all, isn’t teaching merely sharing knowledge and ideas while stimulating thought? And I like to communicate – to share stories and ideas – to maybe make you laugh, or cry, or say WTF. And next to teaching, it’s the thing that I like to do the most.

True Story – of all my subjects, I hated English the most. Funny isn’t it, how life takes you in directions you never would have imagined?