John Steinbeck and a 10th Grade English Teacher Showed Me My Life Purpose

Do you have a soul-sucking career? Many people work at unfulfilling jobs and make excuses for not not looking for something better. My excuses were: it pays the bill, I have a secure government job, I’m too busy to look for something better. If you turn the clock back you’ll find things that you were obsessed with as a kid. Today’s post is on how John Steinbeck and a 10th grade English teacher showed me my life purpose. So read on and get inspired to take charge of your life.

An ode to John Steinbeck and my 10th grade English teacher

Because of John Steinbeck and my 10th grade English teacher I love reading, writing and words. I didn’t have much purpose in my life until I took 10th grade English. The homework that jump-started it all was an assignment to read a work of literature. I ended up with East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. Maybe it was the teacher who suggested the book. She paid attention to my enchantment with writing and words. I remember her tall slender body, and loosely curled auburn hair, leaning over my desk helping me understand the possibilities for my life.

 She showed me I mattered and gave me that initial push into an unknown world that I was meant to be a part of.   I’ve had many influential instructors throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. But she is one of my life hero’s who taught me to love writing and literature. I can’t remember her name but she gets to share the limelight with John Steinbeck.  

They helped me find the literature lover in me

They helped me find the literature lover in me.  As I developed a self with a steady path from which to move forward, I started to feel excited about my future. I loved East of Eden, although I can’t remember exactly why. I’m decades away from having read it, but I remember the awe and reverence I felt.

John Steinbeck shone the light on the squalid living conditions of migrant workers

 Steinbeck was kicked out of Salinas, California because he visited three migrant workers’ camps and wrote about their squalid living conditions. Some of the community didn’t like that.  Be that as it may, he was a hero back then and an example for us today.  

 He lived in Monterrey after he was kicked out of Salinas.  I think he got a good deal. Watching the ocean waves roll in and out and smelling the salted sea couldn’t have been that bad. And hanging out with the seals, sea otters and sea lions scattered along the shores as they slept, snored, yelped, and stretched sounds fun and inspiring.  But I don’t know if that inspired him.  I know the migrant population did.   

The Winter of Our Discontent

I read other Steinbeck books like the Winter of Our Discontent. I was convinced that the main character, Ethan, was an honest and ethical guy, while whispers of he’s too good to be true, secretly made their way into my subconscious.   Those subconscious whispers worked their magic on me, because a writer’s heart is touched by the words of other writers.   

East of Eden was the first adult classic I read.  My mom read children’s classics to me—so she, like my English teacher should get credit for planting the first seeds of great reads. I admired Steinbeck’s talent and was motivated to read more famous works.  Both Steinbeck and my English teacher helped me tap into my buried alive desire to write.  I didn’t always feel encouraged as a child when I tried to show my parents my writing.  I’d usually hide it rather than deal with ridicule, rejection or neglect.  But with all respect for my parents, they made sure all eight of us went to college. I even got a Master’s in Spanish and fell in love with Spanish and Mexican literature, of course. 

John Steinbeck and a 10th Grade English Teacher Showed Me My Life Purpose

When I started writing this I was going to give all the credit to Steinbeck for my love of reading and writing, and although he was a major player, I realized that my English teacher and my mom deserve equal recognition.   So thank you all for being a part of “team Kathy.”  Maybe I liked East of Eden  because one of the main characters was named Kathy – like me.  I, like Kathy, left my marriage, but I didn’t open a brothel –thank God.  But I did and I do open lots of books. 

Think about what you loved as a kid but got too adult to pursue. I got feed up with working in a soul-sucking environment and left it all behind. As I writer I feel exhilarated, challenged, fulfilled, and exhausted, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Email me or leave a comment about what you would love to do, but are making excuses not to. We can all make time in our life, no matter how busy, to pursue what we really love.

Get inspired!–Kathy

Picture of Kathy the blogger

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