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Robert L. Heichberger: It takes zeal to move through life’s journey

In the early years of my youth, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. But as a farm boy, I thought it was a “way-out” idea. I knew that to become a teacher, I would need to go to college, and I had never even seen a college. In fact, some of my friends joked by saying, “Hey, country boy, how are you ever going to go to college?” And there was that arrogantly snooty town boy who asked, “Hey, farmer boy, are you going to wear your farm overalls to college?”

Fortunately, my rural school teacher enthusiastically gave me the gift to seek my passion. I am indebted to Miss Olga Herren. I knew it would not be easy or inexpensive to pursue my hopes, but I was determined. And so, on Sept. 8, 1947, I took my first steps into Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State.

In reflecting on those times, it occurs to me that difficult experiences always pass to a tolerable level. And the positive aspects of one’s life journey seem to hold steady, as long as one nurtures them with possibility thinking. I found that what appear to be insurmountable obstacles may, in fact, be disguised possibilities.

Hope lies in the courage to make possibility into reality. I have found that when you hear a voice whispering, “you cannot accomplish that task,” if you go ahead and accomplish the task, the voice of negativity will be silenced. For you see, resilience represents one’s collective energy points – to move ahead under adversity and accomplish what you thought was next to impossible.

In short, focus on the journey, not only the destination. For satisfaction is found not only in finishing the activity but in doing what it takes to reach fulfillment.

I believe it takes zeal to move creatively through life’s journey. The creative part may be at a place where you have never been before. You may need to leave the comfort zone of your life, into the uncertainty of your aspiration. You cannot get there by automobile or bus, but only by working, planning and moving forward creatively.

My wife found it in music and teaching, and I discovered it in teaching and writing. And our family is discovering that, as well. In reality, what you will discover is quite wonderful – you will discover yourself.

How do we keep our inner zeal alive? At least two things are needed – an ability to appreciate the positives and a commitment to action. I have found one needs to ask these questions: What is good in my life? And: What still needs to be done?

For me, becoming a teacher was one way I was able to accomplish that which I sought to achieve: to touch the lives of others as others have touched mine. In reality, no day is wasted when one touches another person’s life in a positive and meaningful way.

I discovered that we enrich our days by giving something of ourselves to others. It may be a warm smile, a kind word, a sympathetic ear, an inspiring word or a helping hand. You see, that is the gift a very thoughtful, virtuous teacher gave me years ago, and that others are doing for me today.

It all began that day in September 1947 as I took my first steps to becoming a teacher. Consecutively, since then, each September saw the beginning of new school year. I hope I have been able to give to others, in part at least, the virtuous gifts that have been so generously given to me.

Is being a teacher the fulfillment of a dream? You bet it is!