Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 7.07.35 AMIt must’ve mattered somehow. I don’t remember the exact reason I needed to leap the old, rickety desk to make my point clear, but leap I did. As I bounded over the crumbling seat, which had seen better days in the 70s, the arm flipped. So did I. I landed in what may have been the most beautiful breakfall since Jackie Chan.

This was entirely unexpected. Not the fall–predictable in Vegas–a highly uncoordinated person leaping not-so-stationary objects? A large armchair quarterback could have called that. The perfect landing–the odds of that in my world, 1000:1.

Historically, I’ve never been able to clear tall buildings and other objects–I tried in high school track. “Casey,” said Coach after I nearly doubled the school’s liability insurance attempting human flight via hurdles and high jump, “YOU WILL stay on the ground!” And stay on the ground I did, physically and metaphorically–for a long, long time.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 7.14.48 AMNo, falling wasn’t the shock that day. Executing a perfect breakfall–that was the surprise ending. No broken bones or concussion. Practice and preparation kicked in when I needed it. Beautiful. Slapping out, a bit stunned, I got up. “Nothing to see. Move along.”

I earned a solid place in the folklore of that entire crop of students.  Somewhere, there is a Facebook fan page, “Mrs. Casey is a Ninja.” It’s there. Forever.

Often I do stupid things without thinking. Sometimes they pan out marvelously, leading me in new directions, and other times I wake up thinking, “What have I done? How do I undo this?”  When things work out, I see a path, an idea, or inspiration to do more with my life–to avoid fear and stretch my vision, putting vision into action. When they don’t go so well, I reflect, “Hmmm…how did that happen? What did I learn?” There’s a lesson in everything. Good and bad. I try to find it. Often, I try to teach it as well.

I have two weeks left with my seniors. This time of year I’m in the center of the maelstrom cramming in last-minute thoughts about life they’re not really equipped to understand until they gone balls to the wall living. They haven’t lost jobs, been in debt, failed at something, or wondered what the hell happened to the last decade??

In the past, I was desperate to give just one more piece of advice.  Now, I relax–they can find me on social media. I see how they’re doing from time to time. They pop in post-graduation. That’s where the learning begins, because the desire to put the lessons into practice is…real. It matters.

“Wait for it, wait for it….” I can count down to when I get those pings. Questions. “What do I do now?” “What should I…?”  It’s all long after the pomp and circumstance fades.

I take a moment to freeze time. I look around, imagining. I snap a picture of each student in my mind–after graduation, their ghosts walk the hall–I hear their voices. I see them for years to come. I remember where they stood, their spot in the lunch room, the corner where they looked like they were going to bust out some a capella, the daily makeup at the bathroom mirrors, their jokes. Their energy is always there. I look around before they leave, and I see them doing great things. Every one.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 7.10.34 AMExcept this isn’t reality. Some will be dead. Some in jail, some will never get their sea legs solid in the ocean of life. That part, I try to push aside–the curse of a long teaching career. The ones I didn’t get to–the ones I didn’t save. Countless. The girl who wanted to be a vet, the boy holding the single yellow balloon in the snapshot. We were decorating for an event. Smiling. He wouldn’t have many years left to smile.

My stupid human trick, jumping the desk, made me a superhero. His “desk,” put him in the ground. I miss him. I miss them all.

I let the seniors go. Most’ll be back. They’ll tell me what was important, “Miss, I remember when you said…” Not one of them ever says, “Miss, I remember I got an 80 on that test.” They talk about the moments of connection. Things that made it real. That I refused to accept less than–not their best performance, but their absolute best VISION. There’s a difference. That I had a sign on the board that said “What’s YOUR big idea?” and demanded an answer. Some action. A business plan. Movement. Something real. Today–I have a pile of business cards to show for it. Some took their big ideas and converted them. That’s success. Those business cards are gold.

Years later, it matters. They know what I’ve been saying. They’ve done the stupid human tricks. They’ve made and learned from mistakes. And that’s where life begins.

[Quick plug–I’m excited that James Altucher’s book on this subject, “Choose Yourself” is set to release tomorrow, June 3rd…James has been influential to me in helping me convert Stupid Human Tricks not just to vision–vision I have. But to action. And more action. That’s the critical part of the equation. Without action, you might as well stand still. James, I’ll use this in class, probably violating several copyrights in the process when I copy more than a chapter. Don’t worry–I’ll bitcoin you the royalties].

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