I'm not going to lie to you, there are some days when I honestly feel like I chose the wrong path. I could have been an actor, you know. (Heaven only knows whether I would have progressed beyond mattress sale commercials, but a gig's a gig, right?) I could have been Scarlett Johansson. I could have stuck with composing, or maybe gotten a nice professorship at a small university or somesuch. I could have married that fellow in college and had two or three kids by now. But instead here I am teaching music in a tiny school in a tiny town on an even tinier budget, trying vainly to stay ahead of thirty-some-odd middle schoolers who'd much rather talk to their friends than listen to me prattle on about things that, if I'm really honest with myself, I don't truly understand.
And then there are days like today, when that same little group of kids and I make music so good, you can actually see pride and confidence shoot like lasers from their faces. It was that good. They knew it, I knew it, and their parents really knew it. It didn't matter one bit that Johnny was on In-School Suspension yesterday, because today in front of God and everybody, he was part of something undeniably awesome. And no one can take that away. There were times during our modest holiday concert tonight when I felt like my heart would burst. I'm sure I was making ridiculous faces. It was the kind of feeling you get when you suddenly know in the deepest part of your soul that no matter how dark it gets, the sun will rise again, that it is rising right now, that somehow you are the sun.
I love my students. They are amazing, heartbreaking, hilarious, endless souls, with unique faces and compelling stories, and it is an honor to have this small part to play in their growing up into who knows what. And I would not trade it for a thousand trips to the red carpet or a post with the Seattle Philharmonic. No. Tonight, I was the lucky one. Tonight, I was blessed.