Sean is a teacher who is writing about his spiritual adventures to help other people find balance and self-respect.
You can make your own day; don't wait for someone else to do it for you. Use love and smile and make the most beautiful sunshine for the world!
— Sean Dragon
I am a physicist, and I have been teaching sciences for almost thirty years now. I spend about ten hours each day preparing teenagers for their exams. At the same time, I am trying to help those young human beings, of ages 12 to 18, to get the right "supplies" for their upcoming adulthood.
Every day I strive to find ways to help them learn goodness, love, and mercy. To be self-giving and always ready to serve. Believe me; it's a tough work to do! Because they are growing up in a society which worships the opposites. One of my "weapons" is the "Quote of the day". Let me explain it.
It was November of '99. I had recently lost my father, and I was trying hard to manage the crippling debt that his cancer treatment had left behind. Most of my students knew of this situation. You see, we live in a small town, and my father was a well-known local businessman. At the same time, they were aware of my financial problems because they knew that I was also working as a salesman for some extra income.
Kostas, one of my students, was an intelligent teenager, full of outside the box ideas. We had a strong friendship, and we still have. He is a successful agriculturist now. He had also lost his father when he was a young boy. Therefore, I was a father figure for him.
One day, in the middle of a lesson and after one of my "famous" self-sarcastic jokes, he asked me:
"Sir, how can you still be happy and always smile after all these you are going through?"
The other students stopped their work and looked at him. Then they turned to me, waiting for my answer.
I always say to my students to speak their truth without fear. And mine, apparently, seemed to have high spirits this specific day! I believe you'll understand why, in a few lines, if you follow the dialogue we had.
Me: "Well, my dear boy, I will try to explain it to you. In everyone's life, there are difficulties, obstacles, challenges and many other potential sources of sadness or unhappiness. Life is full of them. Not because life is "bad" or "cruel" but because we need them to improve ourselves. No one can get better without those challenges. It is never easy to climb to the top of a mountain. Isn't so? But the view from the top is so rewarding!
Nevertheless, at the same time, life will give us all the equipment we need to manage those difficulties. Each day also has many potential sources of happiness and joy, and even many reasons to smile.
To me, life is like a balance. One side has the difficulties, all the grounds for someone to be sad. The other side has all the reasons to be happy and joyful. The balance will lean to the side we chose. Sadness, anger, bitterness, hatred feed the dark scale and make it heavier. Smile, love, compassion, service, strengthen the luminous and joyful part. So I choose to love and smile every single day, no matter how "cloudy" the things seem to be. As a result, my balance tilts to the happy side, most of the days."
Kostas: "And what is the trick?"
Me: "The trick? What do you mean?"
Kostas: "The trick to remember and choose the bright side when the world gives you all the reasons to choose the opposite, as I do!"
Me: "Oh, my friend, don't be so strict with yourself. I don't believe you do so. Look at you. You have experienced already some of the toughest challenges, and you are still so young. But you are not sad. You have chosen to be a cheerful and kind young man."
Kostas: "No, sir. I know better. I allow pain and anger to lead me to a behaviour that hurts people I love, too often. Then I regret and always say that I won't let it happen again, but it's a vicious circle. So, please tell me how you manage it. I have never seen you angry, though we have given you reasons to be, many times."
Me: "Well, my dear boy, I surely don't have all the answers. But the truth is that I do have a 'trick' to remind me to stay on my track. Every morning, when I open my eyes and before I get out of the bed, I thank God for the new day and the miracles it will bring to my life. Then I form a motivating phrase. I call it 'the quote of the day'. It can be everything, a sentence I have read or a verse of a song –one time it was something written on a wall I had seen the day before– but most of the times is a phrase that I create that very moment. Then I meditate on this for some moments, to find as many hidden blessings in it as I can. Afterwards, I silently repeat it during the day, many times. Every time it has something new to give me and helps me to stay focused on the right side. That's my secret. Ha! Ha!"
Kostas: "And what is the current 'quote of the day'?"
Me: "Are you ready to be shocked?"
Kostas: "Ha! Ha! Yes, hit me!"
Me: "Smile when you are justified to cry. The world needs your light, not your darkness."
Kostas: "What?! No way! You've just made it up!"
Me: "No, my dear boy, that's the miracle! It happens to me all the time. During the day, I realise that the phrase is not random at all! To be honest, I believe that the phrases find me and not the other way around! It is this, or my truth is much more clever and joker than me! Ha! Ha!"
Kostas: "Indeed, I am shocked! I wish I could do it too."
Me: "I think I can give you, to all of you, a little help on this. What if I put a note board somewhere in the class and write every day the quote? So you can read it, and maybe use it."
All students: "Yes, sir, please do it!"
Smile when you are justified to cry. The world needs your light, not your darkness.
— Sean Dragon
The board with the “Quote of the day” in my classroom
And so it happened! Since then, the "Quote of the day" is the attraction of my classroom! I estimate that over five thousand phrases have been put on this note board until today. Hundreds of students have read and used those sayings. Many students have found me, years after their graduation, and told me that some specific quote had changed their life. Many of my students that have gone to universities come again to visit me, and to read the current quote. They had come even kids that I never had as students just because they had heard about the quote! This year I have a new pupil who the first thing she did when she came into my classroom was to search for the quote. Her father was also my student, and he had told her about it!
Life has been so generous and kind to me. It has given me so many precious lessons. Some of them were very hard but always helpful because I chose to search for the gift and not to grumble. The most valuable I believe that is: "You can make your own day, don't wait for someone else to do it for you. Use love and smile and make the most beautiful sunshine for the world!"
There is no better prayer than starting your day with a smile or an act of kindness or serving someone in need.
— Sean Dragon
A view of my classroom
© 2019 Ioannis Arvanitis