(Colleen Joe is a Special Education teacher, writer, mother and wife who loves to share great books and stories that give hope and encouragement that reflect many of our real life experiences of struggle. She gets it!)
One of my favorite books that I use to teach my kids English, is R.J. Palacio’s book, Wonder. This very real fictional story follows a year in the life of Auggie Pullman, who has severe craniofacial abnormalities and faces his fears. Auggie not only grabs the reader’s heart (and won't let go) but perseveres and inspires his classmates along the way to be better. The theme of bravery and kindness is created through multiple layers of Auggie's character. Mr. Browne, Auggie's history teacher, teaches his students the concept of a precept, and throughout the book, gives the reader some amazing quotes on kindness and perseverance to think about.
So what is a precept? It's basically a mantra - a phrase you use to talk positively to yourself. It's a phrase you use to get over that hump of negativity or to keep you on that positive path!
It is a phrase that speaks to you and maybe shouts who you are and how you want to be seen.
When asked specifically for a single precept, or motto by which I live, I had a really difficult time picking one from the various ideas that have influenced me. However, one attitude or approach to life that stands out for me during this stage of my journey, is a quote by Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”
I’ve heard this quote a lot lately as my family tackles some serious issues head on and we grow closer together as a result. Human nature tells us to avoid anything uncomfortable in our lives. The fact of the matter is that life can be tough. It has mountain top experiences, but it includes some valleys that are unavoidable. The trick to real growth and maturity is not how well you can avoid these struggles, but how well you live through them and let them change you in a positive way.
This gives me hope that my journey through the pit will not only lead me to a higher point. I hope that as I become a better version of myself, I can role model resiliency and perseverance to others who may need some inspiration and hope of their own.
When I’m in a dark valley, and am exhausted from the climb, I can rest there and know that there is an end that will be better than the beginning of that particular road. Sitting in that place isn’t fun, and sometimes I immediately want to escape onto a path that isn’t so difficult. But I know that I need to experience the struggle of the climb. That struggle is what will make me ready for the top of the mountain.
I need to go through it in order to get out of it. Whether it is physical or emotional struggles we endure, persevering through the toughest experiences will find us better equipped for life and hopefully able to inspire others who are walking a similar road. Get out there and find your inner Auggie. Find your precept! Find your perspective - make it count.