Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Attending a private high school, this idiom was posted in every classroom. As a young person, I had my doubts. In my mind, situations were either black or white. You either had natural talents or not. You are either good at math or not. You either have the creativity to create beautiful art or not.
This all changed when I told the newly arrived Ms. Jacobian (Ms. J.), that I hated poetry. I was never good at writing nor memorizing poetry. For some reason, Ms. J., put her mind to challenge this deep-rooted belief.
We were working on sonnets at the time. Ms. J. became well aware of my reputation for aggressively seeking grade A averages in all my subjects. While I was willing to work hard to get the A, I explained, I did not necessarily enjoy the work I had to do.
Interestingly enough, every time Ms. J. introduced a new sonnet, she would provide me with notes (SparkNotes 1980s style) “to help me better understand the sonnets’ language”, she said. If I chose to commit to read, discuss the sonnets and memorize them, I was guaranteed an A, she prompted. Taking the time to read those notes (I needed to deliver good grades to make my parents happy and reap all the incentives they offered), increased my will to focus and develop an understanding of the dreaded poetry. It was very hard for me to admit, but I quickly found myself falling in love with Shakespeare’s work. Twenty years later, I still remember many of his sonnets and I can still recite a few by heart. My all-time favorite is Sonnet 18 and yes, I can still remember every word. I will share the first quatrain (a stanza of four lines) but feel free to look up the whole sonnet, I think you will like it.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Ok, so what does Ms. J.’s story has to do with will and way…Well, she had the will to instill in me a love of poetry and wrote special notes for students like me – thus, she found the way. Her proposal for a guaranteed A was hard to ignore. This put me in a position where I needed to find a way to fit in memorizing a sonnet a week – not an easy feat. Yet, the carrot (i.e. the A) was within my reach and hence the will.
When I look back, I cannot believe the time and effort I put into memorizing the sonnets. There were sonnet notes everywhere in my room, bathroom, kitchen, schoolbag and makeup bag. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. I have to admit that Ms. J. was very supportive and understanding and became my mentor who always reminded me that I was capable of whatever I put my mind to.
What are you capable of? What is driving your will? Who is your mentor? If you can figure the answers to these to questions, then you will find the way to accomplish your dreams.