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Spider-Man and the painting that stole my breath away.
I recently said goodbye to yet another group of students. Bittersweet is not enough a term to describe how happy and torn I am to say goodbye.
Every class is unique and every class has its essence. Students Laughing at 0732 while rushing to their seats. The frustrations when students get on each other’s nerves. The emotional moments when we tap into our humanity and share deeply personal ideas and experiences. All these things are what I miss from every class.
Most classes ask me if they are my favorite class. I either avoid answering or tell them they are for sure my favorite.
Honestly, they are all my favorites.
In their way, they imprint on me (I heard that happens when a velociraptor is born). They imprint in such a way I can’t help but sit and look back at those crucial moments that brought us together and helped us get to the end of their educational journey before they returned to lead their people, their troops!
Aside from my classes, there are moments where humans surprise me. Not just my students, but humans in general. This just happened during my most recent class.
(Now, for those prior students reading this…take it easy..ok? Just take it easy…I understand you may start comparing your class to their class and so on but, it’s not about that. So, take eat easy)
Many of my students know I love film.
I love film! I love it so much I intend to shift my career next year from serving in the US Air Force to teaching leadership as a consultant and producing my films. This massive shift couldn’t have happened without my crazy hair-brained idea that I could do it. I have always found ways to fail at my pursuits but one thing I have found is that my consistency has led to the same amount of wins.
The gift I received from this class made me feel as though I reached a win.
A win for the classroom.
A win for the Air Force.
A win for new leaders in any organization that are just trying to figure out this new path they are on.
Being a leader is a difficult thing both in and outside of the military and our new staff Sergeants truly have amazing talents and desires to be the best they want to be. After over three years as an instructor, I feel I have hit my stride, found my groove, and have been making it happen in a deeply connected way. My students know, in many cases some of my darkest and deepest struggles in this organization as well as how I have been able to overcome them. Those moments are for the classroom.
As a reminder of these moments, I walk away with things like this beautiful painting.
To be frank, I can’t stare at this thing without crying.
For those that don’t know…
In 1999 I was living in Queens, NY and my parents owned a video store. Every day after school I would go to the video store and watch movies for hours. Sure my parents had me do homework but quite honestly I skipped some and rushed others just to find a way to watch a new movie in the back of the store. This happened for a few years. About a month or two before September 11, 2001, my parents closed the store. DVDs were all the craze and began to eat into the VHS market at a rapid pace.
Although we said goodbye something amazing happened while we were there.
One day after school I began to see streets were shut down. Word got around that a film was being shot in the neighborhood. You guessed it, I was stoked, excited, amped, anxious, and whatever other synonyms you can think of. The name of the movie?
Yup, Spider-Man. The webs linger that lived in pages of comics for decades got a big screen appearance directed by a guy named Sam Reimi. To be honest, I had no clue who Sam Reimi was and wouldn’t find out for years after that. Well, I tried to get a visual confirmation of the web linger only to find that I couldn’t see him. Shucks! What luck! After a few weeks of filming in the area, they left. And there I was a kid again…nothing changed. Until the movie was released.
From 3:23 - 3:29, my father’s video had its glory. There it was, staring me in the face.
Although my attempts at seeing a famous actor led to no resolve, my dad’s store made it past the Final Cut. And so we fast forward 20 years later. I look at this as a time when I began to fall in love with movies and I didn’t even know it. It was not just that the video store was in the movie, it was that for a few years through film, I was learning about the world, historical people, authors, superstars, sports stars, and others who made a difference and lived their lives to the best of their ability. And now, it’s all I can think about.
I began to see myself on set. With a camera in hand. With a light rig in hand. A script, gels, shit…even a coffee as long as I was on set. I share this story with my students to share a part o fly past and a part of my passion. This class not only heard me but did an amazing thing.
They painted a frame where my dad’s video store appeared in the movie.
And now what? I mean I get to stare at this beautiful piece of work done by an incredibly talented student put in my hands by a group of people I met five weeks ago. It’s amazing how 5 weeks can connect humans in such a deep way.
I’m not sure, what comes next in my life or career. All I know is the general direction I want to go. Thanks to them I have a reminder on my wall.
So thank you! Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for paying attention. Thank you for inspiring me.