1. A salary.
Last week, I wrote a post about money anxiety. However, I took pains to point out that money anxiety is relative. Every two weeks, a paycheck shows up in my bank account. This even continues magically through the summer and winter holidays, when I don’t have to go to work. It’s kind of amazing.
2. The summer and winter holidays.
3. A sense of meaning.
There are moments when I detest my job, but I never, ever question whether it’s important. On my best days, it infuses my whole life with significance. Even if a teacher doesn’t take this job seriously, it’s a serious job. It has profound effects on everyone the teacher comes in contact with. (If the teacher doesn’t take the job seriously, the effects are mostly negative.) Every day is an opportunity to make an impact on the world. I rarely forget this.
4. The obligation to leave my very small world and mind.
I’m an introvert, so, left to my own devices, I’d probably spend all my time in my house with my husband (his company is pretty much like being alone, but less lonely and more amusing) and my cats (animals are better than people.) I’d venture out occasionally to have lunch or a walk with my very closest friends, whose world views and communication styles are pretty much identical to my own. I would soon develop a perspective so circumscribed that I would be even more terrified of people unlike me than I already am.
However, my job requires me to go to another part of town, interact with a wide variety of interesting and intelligent but not always easy adult colleagues, and grapple with connecting to young people who come from cultures, social environments and life experiences that are baffling to me. My job makes me work hard at being with other people, and if I didn’t have it, I’d probably be turning into a nasty and snooty old lady.
5. Walks to and from the metro.
My commute involves 30-40 minutes of daily walking. I haven’t gone for a run or done a yoga class in almost two months. If I owned a car, I would weigh 50 pounds more than I do and would probably be in the early stages of osteoporosis. I won’t like it when it’s -40 outside, but for now, those little marches are one of the best parts of my day.
Tell me what you’re thankful for – I have no doubt it will inspire me.
Image by Rainer Topf