The event that caused this reaction has long since faded from memory, though I believe it may have had something to do with us having placed phallic looking balloons around the classroom. My point here isn't the deed, but the muddying of the term spirited, and our tendency in education and in life to quell the inquisitive, courageous, vital energy of ourselves and others.
The quiet, agreeable, go along and get along child is, no doubt, easier to teach. She is malleable and won't disrupt the lesson, while her more spirited counterpart may have questions, or a giggle that needs to work its way out. My friend questioned most things, often with very funny commentary. If she didn't understand an essay question, she would answer with an elaborately crafted explanation having nothing to do with the original question.She questioned why the classics were considered such, and why we had to wait for great contemporary writers to die before considering their work worthy of praise. Some appreciated her creativity and would give her points for that. This particular teacher would shake his head, and his jowls and tsk. My friend inspired me; that go along to get along kid, to question, and to dip a toe into the ocean even if it appeared I'd be swimming against the tide.
For one with so many questions, my friend knew who and what she wanted to be. She put herself through college, and became a physical education teacher. She is a teacher who embraces questions and different ways of doing things. She was, in fact, voted teacher of the year last year. She has invented tools of her trade which make games and recreation more accessible to kids with challenges. She has written grants and received funding to make bike riding something that no child "couldn't do"; causing a storm cloud of "can'ts" to erupt into a rain of possibility. Yesterday, she posted a video on facebook of one of her gym classes playing a live version of the game "hungry, hungry hippos". One person laid on a scooter, holding a bucket with which he would retrieve plastic balls from the center of the circle. A rope was tied to the scooter, and each had a person at the other end of the rope pulling the scooter back to deposit the "food". This fun and creative game taught cooperation in a rather spirited manner. It was a hoot.
I have always been less sure of who and what to be. I've done some great and some crazy things. I found yoga(or it found me), and it became the adhesive that made a beautiful and, well... spirited collage of the many pieces of my life. Although I've been in a guiding, teaching role in other professions, I felt a resignation to contain my enthusiasm and keep others calm and balanced, rather than ask the questions that might cause a storm. I'm just now learning to embrace the storm clouds and delight in watching students discover their inner imp. Watching the light of mischief dance in a student's eyes whether she is 25 or 85 fills me with wonder and excitement. It makes me feel as though I've done my job.
I've thought a great deal about the origin of the word spirited. For a time, I considered that it referenced the amount of alcohol one would need to consume to be brave, to swim against the tide, to risk the storm cloud. Surely, a healthy serving of libations could help in the short term. My current theory, however, is that spirited should have a capital S. Spirited implies a sense of play, levity, questioning and impishness that we are infused with in our very souls. When we allow it to surface, or provoke it in others, a piece of us awakens, and we live in a way that feels authentic, free and limitless. When I allow myself to feel Spirited and not spirit-ted!, I am more aware of my connection to other beings, to the earth and to the heavens. Thankfully, Spirit is ageless and not prone to the fatigue of the body, thus there's no excuse to quell it due to age or circumstance.
Today, consider if you might honor the Spiritedness of YOU. If you're an educator, see if you can smile rather than tsk as the Spirit shines through a student. If you work in the business world, look for the joy,the creative spark that makes your job more than a means to an end. And if your path crosses mine today, flash me an impish smile, ask that bold question, dip your toe into the ocean of possibility and join me in being Spirited.