Thursday, September 1, 2011

Learing to Read and Saving the World

It seems like I've always loved to read and wanted to write, but there was a time when that wasn't so. In the third grade I was a new reader who was having a little bit of trouble. My teacher at the time, Miss Dilts, encouraged me to keep at it, occassionally letting me stay inside during recess to practice my reading. Pretty soon, I caught up with the other kids, fell in love with reading, and never looked back.

Staying inside during recess to read became a treat, instead of a chore. While the other kids were hanging off the monkey bars, I was marveling at all the things George Washington Carver invented from the peanut. While everyone else was zipping down the sliding board, I had my heart in my mouth, reading about the underground railroad. During a time when all the girls in my class wanted to be Dorothy Hamil and all the boys wanted to be Evil Kinevil, I wanted to grow up to be Harriet Tubman.

Eventually, I did grow up to be an activist. I've seen and done some things that I probably never would have had Miss Dilts not allowed me to read through recess, back in the third grade. Perhaps the most important thing I learned, both from the third grade and from being an activist, is sometimes, you just have to jump in and try. There are a lot of big, complicated problems out there, and if you think too long or hard about them, they become overwhelming. But if you just take a deep breath, jump in somewhere, and do the best you can, you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish. This applies equally to learning to read and saving the world.

I've decided to take this same approach to writing. When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and then life got in the way and I went in a different direction. But life has a funny way of bringing things back around, and now here I am, ready, willing and finally able to do what I only dreamed of back in the third grade. I'm jumping in, putting my best into the projects that come my way, and looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

Miss Dilts, thank you, wherever you are.

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