Today is Ecuador’s Teacher Day. Teachers are wonderful people, worthy of celebration. The mark of a great teacher isn’t how much you remember from their class or what grade you got; it’s the passion they ignited in you. I remember very little from most of my classes in high school. I couldn’t tell you the plotline of Heart of Darkness (The horror! Rivets!) or what macrophages are or what the four Hellenistic kingdoms were. But what I do remember is the curiosity that my teachers instilled in me. They taught me that learning is fun and then showed me how to go about it. Robdog shared with me how amazing the beautiful symmetry of physics is, which has driven me to study it in college. Pipak made me realize how neat it is that the limit as n approaches infinity of a Riemann sum is the area under a curve. Duffee and her wild facial expressions and talk of plums engendered in me a new appreciation for literature. McCullough challenged me to keep up with and care about current events. These few, and many more, influenced me so greatly, not through the knowledge that they imparted but rather through the attitudes they displayed toward that knowledge. Donald Miller once wrote that “sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” So it is with good teachers. The tests are passed, the lessons forgotten, but the way they showed you how to love learning will always stick with you.
Also, today had two great doodles, so you get to read two of my spiels.
If you walk through the streets of Bangkok this week (or anywhere in Thailand, really), you’re likely to be doused in water. People armed with water balloons, squirt guns, large buckets, garden hoses, and even firetrucks unleash a deluge on anyone within reach in a weeklong ritual of renewal. Songkran Festival is the Thai counterpart to the traditional New Year, and during the three days that the festival spans, the businesses of Thailand shut down and people celebrate. Most return to their hometowns for family reunions, a time of taking stock of the year and starting fresh with the people they love most. Buddhists visit temples to participate in the tradition of making merit and to bathe the Buddha. Pedestrians traverse the streets expecting to get soaked. The ubiquitous presence of water may seem a little strange, but water is a universal symbol of cleansing and renewing. The Thai immerse each other in newness and transformation and the idea of a fresh start. It is traditional to pour water over family members and close friends, symbolically cleansing them of the misfortunes and mistakes of the past year. They baptize each other into a new season of life.
Every year, Westerners make resolutions in late December and forget about them by mid-January. The Chinese have their New Year. Thailand has Songkran. Despite the dates we set aside to mark the changing of times, renewal and starting fresh are not tied to the seasons. Any day has the potential for a changed life, a new beginning. Songkran festival comes once a year, but the transformation it celebrates can occur at any time. It can be sparked by a book you just read or a conversation that stirred you or a simple act that you observed. It doesn’t require a festival or a party or a city-wide water fight. Don’t wait to start anew, and celebrate your life every day.