Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen

Year-In-Review 2009: Top Nine Things I Learned In 2009 [Almost Uncensored]

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen

Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen

2009: the year I finally got more than I asked for. Ironically, I didn’t really get the plethora of gifts, trinkets, and well-wishes I used to get during these holidays, but that may have been to offset the tidal wave of lessons and presents I received from 2009 as a whole. I promise not to get melodramatic in this write-up, but please note that I can neither look at these events as negative or positive anymore than I can look any single person as good or bad, as I have yet to determine their ultimate causality and effect. I do know that it’s made me a stronger person as I’m constantly having to squash the rumors of my demise.

Also, since this is almost uncensored, I’ve certainly walked to the brink of discussing personal situations and people in this blog, but I didn’t. Much the way gentlemen never kiss and tell, gentlemen also don’t spill everything out at once. Thus, I’ve involved no names. I understand I leave myself open to criticisms and discussions after, but I plan to keep cleansing in the hopes for brighter tomorrow.

So, in no particular order, here are the lessons I share and hope to impart upon all of you (in no particular order; I’ll leave that to David Letterman):

Life Is Meant To Be Lived

One of my favorite fellow staff members, Mr. R, retired this year, and if there’s anything he ever left me besides a penchant for insult and impeccable pseudo-administration-title writing, it was that we work to live, not live to work. Often, when I’m under the towers of papers, binders, books, and computer gadgetry, I simply and temporarily disband from the madness and go out. Maybe in the midst of trying to achieve some status, following some superstar mogul who rarely slept, or creating the “next best work,” we need to remember ourselves and living. Our work does not make us; we make our work.

Life Is Wasted on the Youth

I often observe my students in action, looking at them as they live out their mini-dramas, wondering why they even care that deeply. Our worldview often distorts the importance of things and people. I think about this as I look towards Ruben Redman, whose death I almost refused to believe until the new school year started. The more people revealed on my blog and in the news, the more uncivilized the whole situation felt to me. Young people should go out and experience things, live happy and fulfilling lives with little worry about who spray-painted what, whose denomination one belongs to, or what colors shade their sneakers or their skin.

Success Is A Process, Not an Event

People often confuse “overnight” successes with real and sustained success. We look at a news report and say, “Oh wow, that just happened. I never noticed, so I guess they just succeeded at this really quickly.” As I can personally attest to, much of the “work” we see done instantaneously takes lots of the blood, sweat, and tears few are willing to put in (I include myself in both parties at times). When success comes rapidly, that usually means the work behind it was much harder.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I’d love to sit here and tell you life for do-gooders is paved with gold. However, the more good one does, the more certain people demand or envy that which you do. I know, the first temptation of many people is commonly to say “shrug it off.” Unfortunately, it takes more than that. Shrugs don’t support your fellow comrades, and oftentimes, the very people who shrug it off are the people who need the help the most. What’s often necessary to combat this is a personal revolution people aren’t often ready for.

Everything You Knew Is Not Everything There Is

It’s amazing to me how, in 2009, people and events revealed themselves in ways I couldn’t anticipate. In 2008, I steeled my mind unconsciously, preparing myself for the mental challenges of this year. Looking back, I took a few blows and came off those injuries more elastic and less dented. While the impressions and images of people changed slightly, none of it actually took me aback (minus Ruben’s death). Actually, it felt like someone turned off the lights in a hallway I’d already walked through a million times.

We’re Capable of A Lot More Than We Know

Whether it’s a good deed or something more insidious, we humans don’t know the extent of the things we’re willing or capable of doing until we arrive at certain situations. Sometimes, we as humans are tested, and whether we fail or pass those tests, we have to take a course of action from that point forward.

You’ve Never Actually Known Someone Until You’ve Been Inside Them

While I don’t mean this to sound perverted or gross in any way, I’ve found out just how much one can learn from actually getting into their personal space. One never knows anything about their boss until they’ve been to his or her office. One never knows anything about their parents until they’ve gone into their bedrooms. One never knows anything about their friends until they spend time in their house. One never knows a partner (or even a love interest) until you kiss them. The subconscious messages we pick up when we break barriers of a person take sacrifice because it often means we have to make ourselves vulnerable to this analysis as well. However, we learn so much that this information is often worth the vulnerability … and often, the hurt.

The Little Things Really Count

To some of us generalists, the little things really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. As I get older, though, I’m seeing the value of the “little things.” The details in my students’ school work. The greeting in the morning to fellow teachers. The mental mistakes we spew around loved ones, parents and siblings alike. Once the little things get ignored, the pile of little things add up to a large thing that’s much harder to control as a conglomerate than as simple parts un-melded. As I’ve witnessed, years of work can be crumbled into nothingness when that rock becomes too burdensome.

Time Is Relative

Everything we know about time has little relevance to actual time. Our measurements of time make no sense. If you’re going to make change, why wait until January 1st, 2010? If you’re going to be honest to someone, why wait until some designated day when you and your friends decided to do so? With this push on the Internet to have information (with varying authenticity) readily available and instantaneous, our relationship with time continuously changes. In the interim, let’s savor today and every day left in whatever we call 2009.

We’ll never know the things we may learn …

Jose, who has one more year-in-review blog that’ll recap his whole life in about 2009 words (I hope) …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonYear-In-Review 2009: Top Nine Things I Learned In 2009 [Almost Uncensored]

Comments 1

  1. J.M. Holland

    excellent
    especially the little things. i used to tell my students, give me details! Lots of details, what color eyebrows do you have in your picture. The same is true with relationships, the touch, the smile, the glass of water handed to a a thirsty friend when they didn’t ask.

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