What is the Single Most Important Lesson We Should Teach
By, Jill Jenkins
“Keep your eyes on the horizon and the bends in the road will take care of themselves,” my father once advised me while teaching me to drive which was no small feat considering he was teaching me in a 1964 Chevy Suburban with a standard transmission (four on the floor) and I was a five-foot-one (almost) ninety pound fifteen-year-old who had difficulty seeing over the steering wheel whenever I put in the clutch to change gears. In those days the seats did not adjust like they do now, so I had a pillow under me and a pillow behind me. His words eventually became my philosophy for life, not just for driving: focus on what is important and the distractions or difficulties in life will take care of themselves.
At 18, I decided to go to college. Since no one in my family had ever attended, let alone graduated from an institute of higher learning, my father tried to dissuade me (He was from a different generation and culture.) by telling me it should be one of my brothers who pursued an education, because women’s purpose should be to get married and have children, but I kept my eyes on the horizon and graduated early Magna Cum Laude.
Later in life, my former husband left me deeply in debt with no assets and a ten year old daughter. Emotionally I was destroyed, financially devastated, so I often joked with my sister that I would hang myself in the garage, but I couldn’t afford to buy a rope and I didn’t have any rafters. My mother reminded me that “mental breakdowns are for people who could afford them, so pull myself together and focus on what is important: your daughter and your job.” I did. I kept my eyes on the horizon and faced each obstacle and eventually the bends in the road took care of themselves. I am now married to a wonderful man, retired after a successful career in education and my daughter graduated from Judge Memorial High School with honors, Westminster College with honors and received her Master’s Degree from New York City University in Journalism landing a job as an Assistant Photography Editor with Popular Photography’s website.
What is important to pass on to our children and students? Perseverance is the key to success. I hope to help them understand that are lots of bends in the roads: distractions like alcohol, drugs, and poison people, set backs like divorce, financial worries and failures. More importantly, I hope to help them look beyond and focus on the horizon. Decide what goals and great expectations they want to achieve and focus on that horizon.They will get there with they keep eyes on the horizons and avoid being distracted by the bends in the roads.