Laura Paskell-Brown is a teacher and PhD student in New York City. She believes that her purpose in the classroom is to remind her students of the power they already have inside of them, and the ways in which they can use that power for good in the world.
When I look into your eyes
I see you
I don’t mean I see your GPA
Or the work that you do.
I mean I see YOU
I see how you’re hurting
If you’re lonely or blue
But I see you
I see the trials and tribulations,
But I see the good times too.
I see the events that shaped you, changed you,
Made you, broke you, maybe took your innocence
Or gave it back,
I see the cracks,
And the beautiful ways you weave them back…together.
I see the people you’ve loved
The ones here and the ones up above
I see the ways you’ve tried
What you don’t like
The things you think are shameful, or blameful
Or just not totally perfect
Like a defect.
But when I look at those things you call flaws
I still just want more
Because I know that the line between you and me
It’s not thick
There’s no bricks
It’s not a wall
Or at least, if it is, it’s small.
And my job as your teacher
Is to reach ya’
Is to reach deep inside you
So that I can get past all of that nasty shit,
All the stuff that’s broken
And with words unspoken
To love what I find
To treasure it
Not to measure it
Because you can’t measure nobody’s soul
A soul is whole,
It’s a manifestation
Of all that you are, as well as all that was taken
And there’s nothing to assess or to grade, see
And anyone who thinks there is, is just crazy.
So as the one at the front of this class
The one you see as here to judge you
I’m telling you,
She’s really just here to love you
Exactly as I see it
Because everything I see, and think,
I’m gonna be it
Because if I judge you, I really judge me
And that blinds me to my light,
And my own capacity.
So if you don’t mind, I’m going to refrain,
Going to abstain
From judging you, or pointing out your flaws
As if you need more
And instead I will show you in me
What I found when I was finally able to see
To be free
With all my defects, and all my wrongs
And see a young, beautiful, utterly strong
Yes, I still have those moments when I’m scared
When I don’t know why I’m here,
Why anyone’s there
But as I reach out to others, to my brothers,
Those times of fear recede, shorten, lessen,
Become less pressin’.
And I can see more beauty, more hope, more joy
I can see more in me than whether I went to college, or if I got me a boy.
I see Laura
And she’s unabashedly human
But she’s real
And she’s sacred too
Not like the Madonna, dressed in blue
But sacred like trees and rocks and rainbows
And you’re the same, though
You’re also different.
And it doesn’t make sense till we come together, till we nuzzle
And ask ourselves how we can reflect
The good stuff inside
And not just project
The shit we tell ourselves we are
“Oh, we’re aggressive by nature,
We’re competitive, we’re scarred”
Because the most beautiful lily has to grow in mud
And before she shows her soft beauty
She has to break through,
It’s her duty
To leave the mud behind her, and burst forth
With all her power
But to do that she needs showers
And moonshine too
And so do you.
So there’s one piece of wisdom I want you to grasp
To take with you, when you’re gone from this class
And it’s not in no textbook, or lab reports
There are no stats
It’s not a ‘fact’
You won’t find it in the journals
But it’s the one kernel
That saved my god damn life.
When I was ready to end it,
It helped me instead to mend it.
And it’s this:
You need to reconnect with the world if you left it
And embrace it tighter if you’re already here
And start to look for the sacred in others, despite your fear
Because we become who we say we are
And what we do, what we think
So seek to be around others who don’t judge you,
Or say you stink
Seek out those who see the sacred in themselves
And they will see it in you too
They won’t be able to help it
They’ll see ‘them’ reflected in you.
And if you can’t find those people
Then know that you can be that person who stands up
Who is the first
To break the mould, to break this curse
And says “I see you”, “I see me”
And no we’re not perfect
We’re human beings
But we have legs, arms and hands designed to create
So before it’s too late
Let’s build something our great great grandkids won’t hate
Something that reflects the light inside us,
Not the dark, not this circus.
Because every being on this planet is sacred
And so is Mother Earth
Together we are the ones who can fix this
It’s time to give birth.
Dedicated to the students I serve. Thank you for allowing me to find myself in your greatness.