Streamline - Winter 2014 - (Page 37)
BY MICHAEL JOHNSON
WHAT IS IT that makes us rise? What causes us to change our ways for the better and to succeed
where we failed before? When I ask successful people how they achieved their goals, one of the most
common responses I hear involves a story of "righteous indignation." There's no counting how many
tales I've heard about a particular person's eventual success being caused by a cruel remark earlier
in their lives. After hearing negative comments, a fire begins to burn in the person's soul, and he or
she simply will not be denied until they prove them wrong.
Then there are other reasons ... one being
that, sometimes, we encounter a revelator.
Here's the story of one revelator in my life.
As a young man, I held the title of the "Worst
Student on the Planet." Because my father had
died suddenly and my mother couldn't handle
the grief, I found myself alone. Maybe because
of fear - and because I wanted to please my
father - I began again. My grades improved,
but no matter how well-intentioned I might have
been, there was one demon I couldn't defeat:
I had intentionally put off retaking the math
class year after year after returning to college,
and time was running out. With my last semester approaching quickly, I confided my fear to
"I don't know what I'm going to do," I said.
"I can't pass math. As a matter of fact, I don't
think I've ever passed a math class."
His wife sat over in the corner, and imagine
my surprise when she said, "I know why."
"You know why I've never passed math?"
"Yes," and after a slight pause, she said, "The
reason you've never passed math is because you
haven't had me!"
"You teach math?"
"Yes," she said. "You enroll in my class next
semester. The work will be difficult, but you can
do it. I will see to that." And so I did.
The first class was a nightmare. I was completely
lost and I had no idea what was being discussed. I
looked up to see the teacher standing by my desk.
"How are you doing on the first assignment,
Michael?" she asked.
"Not too well," I said, feeling sick.
"Well, that's no surprise," she said. "You've only
been trying for a couple of minutes. Things will
improve. Keep trying." She would say that over
and over to me for four and a half months. When
I fell, she would invite me over to her house for
dinner. She would prepare a meal for her husband
and me, and then we would work. She wrote me a
note that said, "Call us or come over to the house
any time you need help."
I passed the class, and at graduation, I sat on
the stage gazing out at hundreds of people. I didn't
know anyone in the audience, but I knew my father
was smiling in heaven. And then I saw something
in the back ... a small fist in the air. I laughed,
thinking that must be some proud parent. It wasn't.
I kept staring and then realized that hand belonged
to someone who had come to share my joy - my
She kept it in the air for the longest time.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2014
From the President: Three Years Later
From the Executive Director: Rattling About the Important Things
Water and Wastewater Systems
Regret: How to Live with What You Cannot Change
OSHA Compliance for Public Works
Nutrient Contamination and Source Water
USDA Rural Development
Cleared for Takeoff!
Emergency Tank Repair Prevention and Preparation
Virginia Offenders Train for Wastewater Treatment Jobs
2014-2015 Membership Directory
Throwing My Loop: Revelators
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
VRWA Training Calendar
Welcome New Members
Board of Directors
Index to Advertisers/ Ad.com
Streamline - Winter 2014