40: Express Yourself

40: Express Yourself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Express Yourself

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

~Victor Frankl

The snap of something in the vicinity of my right ankle resounded like a shotgun blast and I crumpled to the ground. “You’ve torn your Achilles tendon,” said the doctor as he examined my MRI, “and it’s a bad one.”

My stomach clenched into a hard knot. “Can you fix it?”

“I’ll do my best,” he said, patting my shoulder. “But it’s going to be a long road to recovery.”

He wasn’t kidding. I was absent a full two and a half months from the classroom where I taught fourth grade.

Confined to a wheelchair, the interior of my house became my entire world. I wore a groove in my bedroom carpet, clear down to the backing. And while I tried to function as normally as possible, being housebound was not something I accepted easily.

As the weeks wore on, I spiraled into a deep depression.

Friends began disappearing. I couldn’t blame them for not wanting to spend much time with someone totally consumed by doom and gloom. By the end of the first month, I often had days go by with no visitors, and no one called.

I kept the TV going constantly, not caring much about what was on and not even bothering to change the channel. One day I saw some version of the same news broadcast four times: morning, noon, evening, and late night.

And oddly enough, that was what saved me. The fourth time around, I actually heard what was being said. Quality literature was being banned in certain public schools, and such censorship of reading material pushed my teacher buttons.

I flashed back to a time in high school when the school board had forbidden a certain headline on an article that had already been printed in our school newspaper. The journalism class was directed to physically cut the “offending” headline off the paper before distribution.

Although it took hours after school, the journalism class did as told. And then they took all the little strips of paper containing the headline and pasted them on all 1200 student lockers throughout the building.

I sat at my computer and wrote that story, connecting it to the type of censorship that continued to plague our public schools even twenty years later. Then I sent the story to the local newspaper. They published it.

I enjoyed seeing my name in print. The following week, I wrote another article that also appeared on the “Opinions Page.” After my third submission in as many weeks, the editor called.

“We’ve received some very positive feedback about your writing,” he said. “Would you like to be a regular columnist for the paper?”

“I’d love to! How often? How many words? What does it pay?”

My mojo came rushing back. My depression vanished. I’ll never again underestimate the true value of expressing my opinion!

~Jan Bono

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