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2009 Resolution the Third: Sharing Notions

Posted on by Paul Roth

When I was in secondary school, I decided I wanted to become a teacher. It was almost a defensive choice as it seemed to be a safe explanation for why I was such a know-it-all and why I always seemed willing and able to tutor my friends in various subjects. I tutored primarily in maths and sciences but could also lead group discussions in writing and literature classes. There were also a couple of semesters when I took art courses and people started coming to me for help on their sketching and painting.

I was no athlete nor a popular kid nor attractive, so holding a position of esteem by dint of being knowledgeable on a subject was terribly enticing. The clincher for me was when I started taking Physics from Mr. Moore in my third year and discovered not only that this was a topic that explained the world around me but also that I grasped the concepts almost intuitively and could then explain them to my classmates. That’s what I wanted to be! A guru, a shaman, a demystifier of the peculiarities of life!

Then I went to university. My spirit broke. I still liked most of Physics from Newtonian Mechanics all the way through both types of Relativity… but then things got Quantum. And I found no solace there. Maybe it was because I aimed too high as I did attend a college known for its research concentration and graduate student programs and perhaps I just chose the wrong place to nurture my aspirations. I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything, though, as I did make some great friends there and ended up learning the technical concepts that lead to my current livelihood. Still, my thoughts of teaching classes faded with my enjoyment of taking them.

When I escaped academia and began to make my way in the private sector, I did occasionally fall into the role of tutor once again. I would provide individual instruction on computer technologies and enjoyed it. As I took up swing dancing, I found myself becoming that student who would learn the steps quickly and then could offer bits of advice to the other students. I tried not to be obnoxious about it, but certainly if I saw someone struggling to figure out what they were supposed to do, or if I were asked for help, I would step up.

A few years into my dancing, I would join my friend Monica and then later my girlfriend Carrie in teaching some dance classes or workshops. I don’t know how good I was, but I know I enjoyed it. It was simultaneously easy and difficult to teach dancing since I would usually give the disclaimer that regardless of whether it was the right way to do things, this was my way to do things. Then all I had to do was avoid looking bad and maintain consistency. As I became a DC dancer instead of a Baltimore dancer, it was readily apparent that my teaching wasn’t needed in that locale. There were several, sometimes as many as a dozen, incredibly knowledgeable dancers who were teaching around me and often in the styles that I liked. I would be redundant at best.

Now, as I am content in my daily life designing and manipulating databases, and then heading out in the evenings to dance the night away, I rarely seek positions of teaching. Yet, I still find myself sharing what I know and what I think. I don’t tutor these days but I still dole out advice as though I were overflowing with it. That might be an accurate description. I thoroughly enjoy casual mentoring. I’ve lived through some trials by fire and though the scars have taught me much, I find I like to veer others away from those flames by passing on my own experiences. I find I want to teach more.

My topics of expertise revolve around my skeptical but positive view of life. I find I am knowledgeable about the relationships between people in general and men and women in particular. I am able to predict trends in business and entertainment based on my knowledge of how people work. I read books, I read internet articles, I read magazines. I also watch more educational television shows and documentary films than ever before. Drawing from this personal pool of acquired tidbits of information, I advise my friends and find that when my advice is followed, betterment ensues! Fantastic!

Thus, I resolve to pursue teaching this year in whatever capacity I can. Business Writing for Nerds? School for the Courtship Arts? Dancing for Fun at Varying Speeds? How to be Badass Without Hurting Yourself? Santa Claus University? Maybe I’ll take a page from Yes Man and hold Meetup style seminars on how to have a positive outlook in life. Whatever I end up finding, I’m starting my hunt now.

Any questions?

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2009 Resolution the Second: Bearing More Words

Posted on by Paul Roth

Words are important. I still think that numbers are the vocabulary and mathematics the language of the universe, but that metaphor shows just how essential words themselves are. Words are what we use to change the world, more than muscle and more than science. In fact, I think that the notion of magic came about because some people were able to use words in unique ways that frightened and amazed others around them. The ability to manipulate words so that disparate ideas can be joined together in unexpected ways is beyond many and certainly strikes me as magical.

I am proud of my ability to make letters dance across a page to a tune of my own devising. I am not the greatest author the world has ever known, but I think I am no simple scribbler of pedantry either. I write sentences that make me smile and I try to convey concepts in interesting layers of colorful hyperbole. Sometimes, I can surprise myself by the structure and eloquence that I manage to capture in fleeting phrases.

In 2008, Aba invited me on a quest to write fifty-thousand words in a month. I worked hard to accomplish that goal and in looking over my achievement, I think it was good and feel pride in my production. That story is not yet finished, but I intend to tackle the challenge again come this year’s November.

Thus, I resolve to finish my book from last year’s National Novel Writing Month before the next begins. I shall also continue to write whatever I can, whenever I can, in the form of these blogs and perhaps in other endeavors. I have found that I can write poetry, though it is juvenile and amateurish. I have found that I can editorialize and spin fictions. I have found again and again that I feel great joy when my words come together and stand before me in thoughtfully organized dispositions which effectively convey my ideas. I have been happy to discover that once I record an idea for posterity, more ideas stand up to be recognized and captured.

I will write more in 2009 than any previous year because I love words.

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