The Book of Joy

I began reading The Book of Joy (again). I began reading it and I felt like I honestly learned many different things through the experiences of these men, but I only got half way through the book because, as with many books I begin, life gets in the way. Trying to juggle having a social life, learning new things, and an appropriate amount of sleep; I couldn’t fit reading into my schedule. So, I’ve started from the very beginning of this book, trying to get a closer “read”, jotting down notes, putting stars around different passages, and underlining sentences that leave an impression on me, I’ll get to that later. Let me go back to the beginning.

I was initially interested in this book because I saw a YouTube video of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu together. Through that video you could see and feel joy overflowing between these two “holy men”. If you look at pictures of their interactions, you can just feel the love.

Another reason why I started reading this book was because I felt like I needed to get my shit together. I honestly do believe that I am happy a lot of the time, but what I’ve gathered through the part that I’ve read, happiness and joy are two different beasts that often get interchanged with one another. Most books about happiness and joy usually end up saying that the answer is in you, but this book argues that we need other people to feel true joy.

One quote that stuck out to me the most from what I’ve read is a Tibetan saying: Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home. This quote has been underlined, highlighted, starred, the whole shebang. That’s how important it is to me, it hits the right cord.

The first rule that I made up a long time ago to live my life was: Do whatever you need to be happy. Which is something that I wholeheartedly believed in, but is happiness enough? This book argues that happiness is short term, while joy is something that is entirely different. Am I feeling joy or happiness during my time here in Korea? If we find joy in other people, do people find joy with me too?



Being Mr. Austria.

I totally understand why people become teachers and the payoff that stems from it. Teaching is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but the kids make it worth it. Although I only knew my students for 14 weeks I have seen them grow and I have seen the hard work that they put into their work, I know that not all students have that kind of work ethic and some of them you wish were absent once in a while, but teaching is a hard gig, even though I only did it for a semester.

There was this paper that I read this semester called The Heart of a Teacher by Parker J. Palmer and the biggest concept that I got from that was that teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability which I believe in 100%. Not only have I had the opportunity to see my students grow, my students were able to see me become “Mr. Austria” in front of their eyes. Teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability because you need to build relationships with your students and it is something that you need to do daily. Building relationships with each and every one of your students holds them accountable and it holds you accountable to them. I believe that building relationships with your students and actually knowing your students is 75% of the job. I tried to make it a point to say each and every one of my students’ names every day when I saw them in the hallway.

On the last day of my internship one of my students said, “Mr. Austria, you really helped me a lot this year.” That’s when I knew it was totally worth it, through all of the tough times that I’ve had trying to manage the classroom and trying to teach the students something, they payoff was seeing my students actually grow into better versions of themselves. It was a fun ride being Mr. Austria for the semester and getting to know each and every one of my students, there may be a few bad days but the students always make it worth it.


An Open Letter to Unconditional Love

First and foremost I wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done for me because without you I wouldn’t have learned how to give others unconditional love. What I wanted to tell you is that I’m finally graduating from college and sometimes I wish you were here to see it, but I know you’re in a much better place now. How are things up there? How’s Nanay?

I just wanted to let you know that I’m in a much better place than where I was when you left, I mean death is a hard thing to deal with. Here’s a recap of everything that’s been going on, especially this year. One of your grandkids is graduating college this year and three of your great-grandkids are graduating, one college and two high school. Your grandson is learning how to drive, he drove your car last week, but I don’t think he knew that.