Through the Eyes of an Educator: “Come Alive”

by Stacey Ebert / Jan 05, 2021 /
Stacey Ebert's picture

You stumble through your days, got your head hung low
Your skies’ a shade of grey, like a zombie in a maze, you’re asleep inside, but you can shake away
‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking, that’s your only option, but you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day.
Sun is up and the color’s blinding, take the world and redefine it
Leave behind your narrow mind, you'll never be the same

The Greatest Showman kicks off with a show-stopping number. The music starts, and before you know it, your toes tap. As Hugh Jackman's charismatic ringmaster bursts on scene, the journey instantaneously takes flight. The sounds, lights, colors, characters–something sparks deep inside and you can’t contain the excitement. The spark ignites in the minute when one moment shifts to the next, when the ideas percolate, and people begin to dream anew. 

There’s magic in the excitement of the change...something that reminds me of what, in a perfect world, an end of one year, and the beginning of the next might feel like. Since PT Barnum’s ringmaster is not pulling the reins this time around, it’s up to us to facilitate that feeling in those special moments between the end of December and the beginning of January. 

We need to make our own magic.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: “Come Alive”

While the conflagration of 2020 has fueled a continued fountain of ick in more ways than one, in the small flickers of the flames, there’s hope. COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to hit the arms of awaiting humans, a change in the world is afoot, and awareness and equity are at the forefront of positive change; the light is shining brighter than it has in the months prior to the year’s end. As we approach a new year, some head in the direction of resolutions, while others dismiss their participation. Some aim to change heaps of parts of their body and mind, while others consider their daily shift and move forward with mindful intention. Regardless of our choices, when the darkness of the 31st shifts to the light of the 1st, we are officially in the new year–the rest is up to us.

This past year, young learners around the globe have quite literally had the rug pulled out from under them. Holes continued to be poked in heaps of the familiar, while much of what grounded us felt shoddily held together by overused duct tape. In person became distance, distance became remote, remote became asynchronous, and snow days potentially a thing of the past. In every way, lives have literally been turned on their end. 

How do we regain our wobbly footing to steadfastly step into the year ahead?

Come alive, come alive, go and ride your light, let it burn so bright
Reaching up, to the sky, and it’s open wide, you’re electrified
When the world becomes a fantasy, and you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open.
And you know you can’t go back again, to the world that you were living in
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open.

Believe we can change our stars

To depict the details of the early feudal system to my ninth grade class of Global History, I used to show the Heath Ledger movie, A Knight’s Tale. Showcasing the strict tiered levels, the protagonist and his reluctant followers set out to do what had never before been done and shift roles from peasant to knight. The movie tells the story of an encounter with the ‘knight’s’ father, who from a young age told his son that it was always possible to ‘change your stars’. Here we find the growth mindset in a movie far earlier than that term was often utilized. From early on, this child learned that even in a seemingly inflexible system, there was room for change, growth, and the potential to use his mindset to, quite literally, change the game. If this isn’t the motto for a new year, I don’t know what is.

I see it in your eyes, you believe that lie, that you need to hide your face.
Afraid to step outside, so you lock the door, but don’t you stay that way.
No more living in those shadows, you and me we know how that goes
‘Cause once you see it, oh you’ll never, never be the same.
We’ll be the light that’s turning, bottle up and keep on shining
You can prove there’s more to you, you cannot be afraid

Set your attitude

Depending on where you get your news, information, or insight, we’re often flooded with ‘new year, new you’, or courses to set those ever-present new year’s resolutions. Remember that what we choose to do, think, act upon, or seek in the day after the last is always up to us.

Sure, goal setting is always a good idea, but forcing a mindset isn’t.

It takes time to change a habit, it takes time to devote energy to change, and it takes effort to shift a focus or an attitude. We have access to these options every single day. There’s no one magical switch flicked from the 31st to the 1st, no one lightbulb that if it doesn’t work there’s nowhere to go, nor is there a standard intention or thought that works for everyone at large. With each moment, each day, each breath, we have the capacity to start anew. Renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg teaches us that “we can make changes in our lives, we can live consciously rather than mechanically, we can open our hearts and we can be more fully alive.” That, no matter what date, day, or year, “we can always begin again.”

Come alive, come alive, go and ride your light, let it burn so bright
Reaching up, to the sky, and it’s open wide, you’re electrified
When the world becomes a fantasy, and you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t go back again, to the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open 
So, come alive!
Come one! Come all! Come in! Come on!

Forge ahead

As the calendar pages change, how will we change? Will we continue on the same path, or change trails completely? Will we take the windy road, or choose the sleekest possible? The necessary lesson is that forging ahead, working on our attitudes, and setting intentions is not date specific. If we can teach our next generation something about those year-end times, let it be that that’s not the only time when we can take new steps or re-invigorate our attitudes. Each lesson, each idea, each decision that lights a fire in our bellies matter–it is in these moments that we can forge ahead to the unwritten future.

As our kids go from learning their letters to being avid readers, from one semester to another, or from starting juniors to almost seniors, may we instill in them the ideas of potential, promise, and possibility. 

Let’s do our part to actively listen, teach them to share their feelings, journal their thoughts, and learn with an open mind. This year, may we all take a page out of P.T. Barnum’s book and dream with our eyes wide open. Onward.

To anyone who’s bursting with a dream - come one! Come all! 
You hear, the call - to anyone who’s searching for a way to break free
Break free! Break free!...
When the world becomes a fantasy, and you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t go back again, to the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open...

‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open
So come alive!

Through the Eyes of an Educator: “Come Alive”

Lyrics: Pasek, B. & Paul, J. Come Alive. The Greatest Showman, 2017, pp. 36-37. Retrieved 1/2021 

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.