Thursday, May 01, 2008

Passion Quilt Meme: There is Only One You

I've seen this lots of places, but it was Lauren's post that actually motivated me to do something. I've been thinking about this for a while. I don't really instruct students. Not in an extended format. So I thought about what was the best lesson I've ever learned; what would I want my daughter to carry with her into the future.

I doubt my parents realized the impact it would have on me, but from a young age, they stressed to me how every person is unique. My father especially. I really took this to heart. It's shaped who I am today.

Whenever I've felt doubtful about myself, I think, there's NO ONE else on the planet like you. There is no one else who puts ideas together, places one foot in front of the other, chews food, in the same manner that I do. So even when I question what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, I take solace in the fact I am unique and no one can take that away from me.

Here's the magic of this. I am not confined in thinking that I need to be like everyone else, think like everyone else, or act like everyone else. I can't be. We're all unique. And being unique means that none of us are alike. You couldn't follow the crowd if you wanted to.

So how is this helpful? Why would you want to tell this to students? For me, it removed my inhibitions, it removed my fear of failure. No matter how awful things might feel in the moment, you can know deep down that you bring something to any situation you get into because you are unique. You might whiff on today's project, but tomorrow's project might be that big home run. You can achieve some truly amazing things if you aren't afraid to make a few mistakes (or even a lot of mistakes).

The library world sometimes feels very safe. Very tried and true. This has been frustrating for me coming into this field. Sometimes you can butt your head up against so many obstacles just trying to get the simplest things done. And other times the things you sweated the most sail through without problems.

Just always remember, "There is only one you."

Original photo by Irina Souiki

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let's Start a Fire

You may have noticed that the URL for this blog is 'books to burn.' When I created this blog, I wasn't sure what that meant. I just liked the way it rolled off the tongue. I liked how it was a little controversial. But I liked how it didn't mean anything and still carried a lot of imagery.

You see, fire is a powerful thing. It was something that separated us from the rest of the animals on this planet. It provides warmth and security, yet it still carries a destructive, terrifying power. What else can both comfort and destroy?

It also makes me think of two of my favorite cities: Chicago and New York. While there are a lot of ways in which the two cities are different, but there's one way in which they will always be separated in my mind.

For those of you who have been there, what happens in New York City on garbage day? All the garbage is piled up on the curbs as New York has no alleyways. One garbage day, you have to wade through trash to get to where you're going. For such an amazing, exciting city, it stinks--literally--to have to walk through garbage.

You know what happens in Chicago on garbage day? All the trash is behind the buildings and out of sight. The public doesn't have to see it nor do they have to walk through it.

Do you know why Chicago is able to put its trash in the alleys behind the buildings?

Because in 1871 Chicago burned to the ground and they were able to rebuild the city with a better plan so that people didn't have to walk through garbage.

There are days when I'd like to start a fire to burn everything to the ground so we could start over with a new plan and not have to walk through garbage any more.

I'm just saying.