Why I decided to leave my beloved career as an English teacher, a promising position at a renowned craft beer brewery, and sell most of my possessions to explore Australia in a home on wheels.
In my younger more creatively inclined years, I dreamt of exploring the sunburnt country. Fascinated by the peculiar evolutionary variations that took place due to the continent's isolation, I devoured encyclopedia entries attempting to absorb all fauna and flora related information. Often I would doodle cartoon versions of the Tasmanian devil and other anatomically incorrect renditions of marsupials. I felt the call to adventure, then the noise of adolescence and adulthood grew louder and I stopped listening --
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I was not ready to be a role model when I started teaching at the age of 24, but for better or worse, now that I have felt the formidable stroke of 30, it is what I have become. As a result, I feel a strong moral obligation to explain my decision to the plethora of the equally devastated and (hopefully) inspired students that I am leaving behind.
Towards the end of each academic year (after their Advanced Placement English Literature exam), I introduce my students to Joseph Campbell's monomyth through a series of lectures that culminate in my students identifying the hero's journey throughout the narratives of the original Star Wars trilogy. It is a basic pattern of story telling found across cultures separated by time and space; for each call to adventure, there comes a refusal of the call, eventually through one circumstance or another the reason (read: excuse) for renouncing the adventure is eliminated, and the hero embarks on a transformative journey to varying degrees of success often experiencing temptation, ritual sacrifice, dismemberment, and other trials and tribulations.
This is a clear oversimplification of Campbell's seminal work, just as the subsequent explanation for my departure will fall short of truly encompassing the breadth of my decision. That being said, I always tell my students that the end result of testing and their high school careers will depend on several variables outside of their control, but the one thing they do control is their effort in becoming a person of substance. Moving to Australia, having only ever lived in Miami, is the next stage of my personal quest and I am rightfully terrified.
The Cave You Fear to Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek
Teaching has my heart but the nation's most embattled profession is exceedingly cyclical in nature and I need to move in a different direction for some time before I end up living the same year over and over -- designating that a life. Australia is often described as a land of extremes, and being someone who does not believe in half-measures, I welcome the physical and mental challenges that await. I look forward to distancing myself from civilization and exploring my humanity through communing with nature; I look forward to pursuing my creative passions, composing poetry, and prose, rekindling my long dormant artistic sensibilities. In those embers, I hope to awaken in my students and anyone else that has stumbled upon my ramblings, a sense of adventure and a desire to create. I know you will go forth and carry the fire.
To all of my students throughout my career, thank you for your consideration, for your passion, for your understanding, for your sacrifice, and for your curiosity. Students like you (you know if this pertains to you) are shining beacons of reassurance in the human race collectively drowning in a sea of comfortably numb eyes.
To all of my students throughout my career, snap out of it, put your phones down (for that filter does not define you), stop worshipping at the church of celebrity; you will not find happiness in the uninhibited pursuit of wealth. I give a pre-reading assignment each year for The Great Gatsby in which students, much like James Gatz, get to create themselves as they would like to be. This year, the majority of my English III Honors class, reimagined themselves celebrities, famous and carefree. If they did choose a profession, they were doctors and lawyers, not because of the good they would do, but because of the perceived financial comfort that those professions allow for -- indubitably troubling.
Seek simplicity in life, but do not ask for a life without struggle, it is ultimately how we grow. A carefree existence is just that, a life in which you lose the ability to care; your deliberate choice to slide down the emotional and intelligence ladders will be irreversible. May the cosmos bestow upon me an existence that is both beautiful and brutal.
To all of my colleagues throughout my career, thank you for your passion, for your understanding, for your sacrifice, and for your friendship. Continue to beat on...
To (some of) my colleagues throughout my career, you never did give me a chance, not earnestly. You took one look at me and just assumed I was your high school tormentor. That being said, I thank you too. Having never had a pedagogical conversation with me or sat in on one of my lectures or class discussions, you felt the need to criticize. We teach in a myriad of ways, and many students have learned what not to be through your blatant hypocrisy, your unwarranted criticisms of my appearance, and my teaching methods. And I am painfully aware that plenty of students have also decided what not to become by observing my behavior; I just hope that when the measure of me is taken, it is decided that I did more good than harm. Again, thank you for your sacrifice.
Please understand that I am not advocating that we all quit our jobs and live as vagabonds. My girlfriend and I have worked multiple jobs, seven days a week, for over two years to make this adventure a reality. Kurt Vonnegut articulated it better than I ever will, "The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable." So to those that doodled in class instead of taking notes, pursue that talent, make it a part of who you are. Continue to create.
I previously mentioned having felt and ignored the call to adventure, felt and not just heard because this is something one experiences in their very marrow, it overwhelms and confuses the senses. So now the time has come to heed the call.
This is not a goodbye, this website will serve as documentation of the journey ahead, and a way for family, friends, and like-minded individuals to share in the experience. Feel free to visit it often in-between your own adventures. Rarely do I share my writing, but in the spirit of this undertaking, I will.
So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with.