Over the last month, two of my friends and mentors died suddenly. One was my classical guitar teacher and the other was a taekwondo master from my former dojang. Both men in their early/mid-sixties, they were taken from their loved ones too quickly and too soon. They were both gentle and patient. They both made a big impact on me and the things I love to spend my time doing. They will both be missed by many.

Lately I’ve struggled with the notion that I’m not doing what I “love” for my main source of income and what takes up most of my weekdays. Said source of income enables me to comfortably pursue my true passions, so I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth or deny the privilege of what I have. I also don’t buy into the notion that you have to “love” your job or “do what you love” to put food on the table. Sometimes a job is just a paycheck-providing job and doesn’t impact who you really are and what is truly important to you in life…but I have those days where I really wish I could just do my hobbies 24/7. We all do.

Whether you’re getting paid to pursue your passions or you do that in your spare (non-paid) time, we’ve probably all experienced the power of an excellent teacher. A good teacher sparks and keeps your interest, shows you the beauty of what you’re learning, and in most instances, shows you how the subject matter can make your life better. We may not use everything we’ve learned in our day jobs, but a good teacher reminds us of the pleasure of learning purely for the sake of learning. Their lessons stay with us, and the way they made us feel warms our hearts. Even if we can’t pursue our passions every day, the lessons from those powerful teachers keep us going through the ups and downs.

My favorite teachers are not from my MBA program, which helped in me getting the job I’ve had for the last ten years (and “said source of income”). They are people who ignited and fueled interests that I was either able to enjoy for a period of time or I continue to pursue today: my third grade teacher who instilled a love of reading, my high school theater teacher, my college Shakespeare and Spanish professors, my medical informatics professor in my library science master’s program, my guitar teacher, and my taekwondo instructors. All were meaningful in my life and made learning an incredible experience. Some, like my guitar teacher and taekwondo instructor, are no longer with us in this plane of existence, but their memories live in my mind and heart. I am a better, more well-rounded person because of them.

If your favorite teachers are still around, be sure to thank them. If they’re not, continue their legacy with your love, interests, and actions. 

Rest in peace Faye Cook, Jerry Worsham, Michael Dailey, and Terry Avery.

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