Feb 4, 2017
By Daniel Egan
Passionate Rain Forest Dreams in Brazil
Sitting with my eyes level to the canopy I look to the towering emergents above. Below, the dark and shaded undergrowth is too dense to explore. I’ve learned all about the exotic creatures that inhabit this tropical rain forest. I’ve learned all about the natives that protect the land that nourishes them. I’ve learned all about the companies that bring destruction and death.
From my desk I’ve learned everything there is to know to pass the end of topic test. As I listen to the winter rain hammer the window, the grey and gloomy skies encapsulate the mood and mentality of my home town. And as I sit here as a helpless teen, I continue to look at the cross section of the rain forest on the wall and can’t help but think ‘it’s so far away, so foreign, so out of reach to someone like me’.
I’m awoken from my unreachable daydream by my teacher’s voice. The same teacher who lovingly assembled the cross section on the wall. The same teacher who guides and encourages me to reach for the stars. But in that very moment in time the stars are no more reachable than the rain forest, than success or than a life beyond the confines of my small, insignificant mind.
The years that follow are a seemingly never-ending maze. A seemingly never-ending rollercoaster. Trying to hold onto the ups, not knowing how to deal with the downs. Trying to find my way to happiness, but feeling forever in despair. Trying to find my way to adulthood, whilst desperately attempting to lose my childhood. Trying to not fail. Trying to not disappoint. Holding frantically on to the fact that every maze has an end that one must eventually find. Holding frantically on to the fact that every rollercoaster has ups and downs, but also a middle ground that one must eventually come to.
It’s 8 years later. I’m now a man. I’m going on 22. I’ve just graduated as a teacher.
For the very first time in my 21 years I feel alive. I feel ready to take on the world. In teaching, I finally found something that I was good at, without even really trying to be good. I found something that I loved, without even really trying to love it. I found something that allowed people to appreciate me; without even trying to be appreciated. Standing in front of a group of young, impressionable individuals I feel a sense of responsibility; for their happiness, their learning, their development and as their eyes to a world they have no idea exists yet.
In this natural ability to connect with children I’ve become a role model, maybe even an inspiration. I no longer have time to wallow in self-pity or doubt. I’m no longer afforded the luxury to believe the rain forest or the stars are out of my reach. I have to be what they need me to be. I have to be strong, direct, confident and assertive. I have to believe. I have to get them to reach for the stars. How can I do this if I don’t believe it myself?
In my dedication to them, to their needs, to their mental and emotional development, I become dedicated to myself, to my needs and my own mental and physical development. With their growth, I grow.
‘Karma’ is a word that’s carelessly thrown around nowadays. In its everyday over-usage it’s just right for someone getting bitten in the behind for something they had coming to them and deserved. Used in its true meaning it’s usually scoffed at, a word for hippies, yoga instructors or white people with dreadlocks …or white hippy, yoga instructors with dreadlocks. It has similar reactions to when discussing energies, destiny, belonging, and finding oneself.
But Karma is a word I relate to and connect with like no other nowadays.
It’s 8 years later. I’m now a very different man. I’m going on 30. I’ve spent the last 8 years continuing on a rollercoaster ride but treading a course mainly from the middle to the top. What an achievement.
However, one thing I have failed to do is to work my way out of the maze. Oh how thankful I am of that. How boring that openness beyond the hedges appears now. That life of predictability in a world without twists and turns is for someone else, but not me.
16 years ago I was lost and scared in an unfulfilled, directionless life. Dreams weren’t worth the torture.
Now I live the dream I was scared of dreaming and that’s my number one lesson as a teacher.
In case you were wondering; I got to visit the tropical rain forest by the way – on every continent they exist.
This goes out to my teachers and students who inspired me and made me into what I am today.
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About the Author
An avid explorer I've visited and worked in 57 countries, including as an academic consultant for a charity school in Malawi, orphanages in Ghana and India, and most recently: a refugee camp in Palestine. My love for travelling coupled with being a teacher has led me, leads me, and will continue to lead me around the world until my days are up.