From the Flame to the Fire

This last few weeks in Portland have been scorching hot. Well, for Portland it's been hot, well into the 90's. Luckily I was out of town last week at a conference in Seattle, where it was a bit cooler, while people in Portland were boiling through temperatures in the  high 90's. This week has been pretty hot too. My third floor apartment, without air conditioning, has been sweltering. I sit on the couch, sweating as if I am in the full sun, sticking to my couch. It has been a humbling experience.

Air conditioning....a simple thing that can be something that defines where you fall in the income standings. This is the first time in more than twenty years that I have not had air conditioning. The eighteen years of my marriage and the time before involved air conditioning. Previous to being married, I didn't have it, but I was also a single parent living near my parents so my daughter could go to an acceptable school. I was spending sixty-percent of my income to make it work, having air wasn't even on the agenda.

It's interesting to define oneself by something so strange, but honestly, not having air has made me look at my current life from a different perspective. Not to be mistaken, I am living a good life. I am happy. I am building something beautiful. For the first time, in a long time, I am focused on who I am, who I want to be, as I move toward this phase of my life.

I have a wonderful job, teaching students I love but I also realize that when one household becomes two, all parties are impacted. The focus is Javad, making sure that he has all he needs. He has the stability that everyone desires and that, is the most important. I live nearby, which makes it easy to spend time with him and co-parent.

So, back to the heat. As I was sitting, in my steaming hot apartment, I thought about my students and how air conditioning isn't likely even something they would expect to have. They live in low income housing, with often eight to ten people so being hot in this weather is what is expected. When I am thinking from this perspective, I am humbled. My time in this situation is limited. There will be a time when my path will change. With luck and hard work, theirs may change as well. That is what I do, help change the path of those who I work with, as my teachers did for me.

Helping others see a road they didn't know existed is a powerful job, one that I take seriously. Each day I wake knowing that my words and actions could have the potential to change a life. It is a career that lays the foundation for all other careers.

Looking at the sweet faces of my students (even the ones who make me crazy) has me recognize that what I do matters. I am building the future. So today, I look at the heat and am reminded of what I do, how important it is. One day we will all have the pleasure of having Air Conditioning...a sign that we have stepped forward and made the best life possible! No more standing on the edge...we go boldly
from the Flame to the Fire.


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