J.D. Williams on a run

~from Mary Ellen Sanger

Everything bends toward a hopeful search for meaning, as J. D. Williams (B.A. Liberal Arts with a minor in English, M.A. English: English Education) describes his time at CSU and beyond:

“In college, we serve knowledge to hopefully learn what the hell we’re doing on this planet. In grad school, we hone that knowledge to hopefully find wisdom and to hopefully learn what the hell we’re doing on this planet. Beyond CSU, we grow families and communities with the desperate hope that our own upbringing will be enough to teach and guide young people about what the hell they will be doing on this planet.”

Teaching English at Rocky Mountain High School since 2009, J.D. has found that teaching and guiding young people has been both an important part of his meaningful work, and a challenging one:

“In these eight years, I’ve experienced colleagues come and go; students succeed, fail, and find their voice — or not; baseball players I’ve coached grow through pursuits other than baseball — and through Major League pursuits; mentors I’ve known struggle to the breaking point; and myself constantly engage in the hackneyed self-conflict of should I keep doing this.

I’ve run ultramarathons in the wild darkness of western wilderness to keep my sanity; graded all night more times than I can count; lost years off the end of my life stressing about piles of paper, people, and passions I couldn’t pursue.

I’ve moved in with, married, and grown with the person I always dreamed existed; seen my dad through four bypasses and mom through a heart attack; lost colleagues, the objectively best golden retriever to ever exist, and family friends.

All I’ve really learned since coming to CSU for undergraduate study in 2001 until now, at 35 and entering the middle years of my career, through tumult and routine, reflection and transaction and panic, is that it has all been worth it.

It has simply, and richly, all been worth it. The relative pain and suffering I have felt in my life is absolutely nothing; it is irrelevant, and it has – selfishly — made me aware of its tawdriness because a life as a learner and a teacher is one empathized through and for others.”

With this service as his cornerstone, J. D. reflects on how his choice of an English degree has added meaning to his life and work:

“It would have been easier to get the other degree, or to pursue the easier profession. And had I done that, I would be miserable.

In gratitude and service of others — their lives, their ideas, their struggles, we hope to better the community. And it’s a desperate endeavor because everything moves so fast — and sometimes not at all. But it also defines life as never boring, as always for the betterment of the community and the self.”

J.D. Williams finds his own meaningful life and work through that service – a common theme for teachers — and reminds us of how to meet the daily challenges that life in service presents:

“So, a ‘meaningful life’ is one that is meant to serve. To foster. To struggle. To almost give up but not. And then next week almost give up again… but not.”