“I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.”
-- Walt Whitman
As a teacher, I often force my students to be busily ambitious, always bringing new and more serious assignments their way, but I also try to temper that with the knowledge that satisfaction and patience plays a powerful role in learning. In their often furiously busy lives, my young students need to know that I treasure those times in English class when we can all “sit content” for a couple of moments, just welcoming what knowledge we’ve already gained, and giving thanks for all our thoughts, both the wee and the wonderful ones. As Whitman suggests, the only person a student has a chance of knowing is herself or himself , and it’s a vast and puzzling person indeed, as vast, I truly believe, as the scattering stars above us – and isn’t it important to provide time to sit back and be satisfied with that marvelous person? In a way, none of us is perfect, but in another way, we are each as perfect as any riffle in a river or any collection of clouds coming over. Rivers, you might say, are content to be just what they are, mud and murkiness and detours and swirls included, and I want my students to feel in themselves a similar contentment. They certainly can improve as students of English, but they have no need for improvement as creations of this limitless universe.