Welcome! Whenever you are reading this I am excited for you because we have reached what I have called a mile marker in our 32 before 32 series. This post, in addition to 20, 30 and 32 will be longer posts that highlight what I believe are the most important foundational pillars of who I am as a person. Because these mile marker posts will be longer, I will spend more time writing on these aspects of the lessons:
where did I learn that lesson
what that lessons means to me
how you can apply it to your own life
If you’re new to this blog, then I encourage you to read A place for Us (dedicated to 53140) where I talk about Harand Camp of the Theater Arts. Harand is an extremely special place to me and making their mantra one of my life pillars is an great place for me to start. Before going any further I should explain that No Man is an Island is a poem that was turned into a song. That song has been sang by Harand Campers and Staff since 1955. The words go a little something like this:
No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me, each man’s grief is my own.
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother each man as my friend.
Its a simple song with a big concept: you are better when you are surrounded by people who support you. And if you are able to support people you should. Nobody is able to get to where they want to alone. Wether that is a final performance, a job, or marriage. People need support and to feel supported because that is what makes us better. Now, I did not attend Harand camp as a child/teenager or even work there when I was in college. The first summer I spent with Harand was summer 2015 when I was 26 years old. I was two years removed from college and working part time as a tutor. My life was in need of a direction and Harand would be the wind in my sails. Now working with kids was nothing new to me, I had been an athletics coach for just about 9 years at that point and I was subbing for two years as well. Working at a summer camp had been a bucket list item for me since I was in college for nothing more than trying to get better at being a teacher.
So how did Harand become so important to me in six short years? That first year when I was struggling to find my footing in life and acclimated to a job I took three days before the camp began; the staff took me in as their own plain and simple. Through the hard work that included moving, lifting and hauling set pieces and props, mentoring the kids from 7 in the morning to 10 at night, and trying to get the kids ready for two shows throughout the summer, I was constantly reminded that I am not going through this alone. Even at 26, there was a lot of questions I had about how to do my job better and help my campers be their best most polished selves. I could not have got through that first year without the support of others even though I was one of the older counselors on the staff. “No man is an Island” was especially bought in by the campers. The kids, specifically the experienced Harand kids, helped me feel more comfortable with my new role. Campers worked to support each other with memorizing their lyrics, reviewing dance steps, going over their lines and even just doing their best to make each other feel loved. Five years later, I still consider my years at Harand integral into who I am not only as a teacher but as a 31 year old man and citizen of this country.
Outside of camp, making No Man is an Island a part of my life has had its ups and downs. What I have found in my life is that people want to feel supported and if possible to offer support to people. One of my first lessons of every school year since 2016 is how students can work collaboratively with each other. I do this by using a series of games where students are required to work in teams of 4-5. In my experience, students want to have the benefit of working with teams and other people because there is generally more success experienced when people collaborate together. Psychology also shows that if a person feels supported by their network (in this case the classroom), that person is more likely to take healthy risks, show more confidence in their daily lives. One young man from my first fifth grade class was able to grow in his MAP reading scores by 50 points from January to May just from the support of his reading group, teachers and family. Support from others works and it makes the individual person better which of course makes the team/group better.
As I sit here and write this post I am just under a year and a half from getting married. Through this entire dating, engagement process, Lauren has consistently and almost daily showed me the importance of not being an island. Obviously getting married is one of the biggest commitments someone will make in their life and this idea of working together and supporting each other through thick and thin directly supports this lesson. March 2019 I had major knee surgery. I was off my feet for almost a month and a half. I needed the support of Lauren to do my daily activities until I was able to start being more independent. Even when I thought I was being a bother to her. One quote she would say over and over again is “Kyle, I’m in it for the long haul. We are better together and I would not leave you to get through this on your own.” Without even saying it, Lauren was really giving me this lesson throughout my recovery time. No man is an island means to me that the team is as strong as the individual.
Putting no man is an island into your life is as simple as providing support and love to those in your life. The need for great mentors and support is endless because no matter your current position or life situation you can always benefit from the guidance of someone cheering you on and lifting you up to get to the next step. Don’t be afraid to accept help and support form those who love you and want you to do better. As mentioned before, there is no way that any of us can advance without the help of someone else. In the same breath, I would hope that if given the chance you can help someone realize that they are better with support and love. As important as it can be to feel the assistance of people it maybe just as important to offer that to someone who needs it. I firmly believe we owe it to each other to try to help others when we can.
Thanks for reading. And remember: No man is an Island