Traditional Ramen bowl at 5S17, 634 17th Avenue, SW
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. Second grade, no question about it—I just knew that’s what I was meant to do.
All through middle school and high school, I knew that’s what I was going to do.
Then came my first year of college—a big year of transition for me, bigger than simply the jump from high school to post-secondary education. As that first fall semester began, my engagement to my high school boyfriend came to an end (my choice as I recall, although he may have seen it differently), and my friends scattered far and wide to school; I had made the decision to commute to the nearest campus before the breakup, so I was there for my first year.
During that year, I had the opportunity to observe in a classroom and eventually, to become more involved in teaching. And at the end of the year, the kids I had come to love were ready to move on, and I wasn’t.
I hadn’t figured that they’d be leaving at the end of the year (I guess I hadn’t thought that far) and I found it a very difficult shift—maybe even bigger than the move from high school big fish to lowest of the low at college, or even the breakup. Or maybe it was just my emotions.
I spent the next year at a community college, trying to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grew up.
Which led to a career in radio and television, followed by a run in government relations, and currently work at a post-secondary institution (otherwise known as a college or university).
At the root of it all was writing, which I finally realize has always been my passion.
And that’s the secret to life—finding what truly makes you happy. You can’t really be full in the rest of your life until you find your passion—or, in my case, to find time for your passion. Sometimes that takes a little while.
Take my friend, Deni. I met her at the university where she worked in one of the offices connected to mine in the school of education. Before that, she lived in Hawaii and New Zealand, working with young people to teach them development and relief work. She decided she wanted to become a teacher, so she enrolled in our program and two years later had her degree and since then has been teaching fifth and sixth graders.
And now that she’s had a taste of that, she’s looking at finding ways to help kids by creating safe spaces for them to figure who they are and to help them develop into the people they want to be.
So Deni clearly has the well-being of kids and young people at the centre of her passion. I think she also understands the need to have people leading others to help figure out who they are, who they want to be, and who they can be.
The other night over dinner at 5S17, a Japanese noodle house on 17th, we talked a lot about the paths we’d taken in life—what got us to the outdoor table on the small platform on a hot evening, with skies threatening to open up and pour rain down on us.
Over bowls of ramen—we both ordered the traditional, which contained pork, noodles, a perfectly cooked egg, some scallions and a deeply rich and slightly spicy-hot broth-- we caught up on our lives and enjoyed the kind of conversation I like best—the kind where you learn things you didn’t know about someone you’ve known for a while.
And as Deni told me a few days later when we talked about this idea, the important thing to note is the development of your life-long passion doesn’t often come up and smack you on the head--at least not this kind of passion…
It’s more subtle than that—almost like the heat of the ramen…it can sneak up on you, mostly because it’s more like a long-term growth in the sense that it happens over a period of time that you come to realize you wake up looking forward to what the day is going to bring, with enthusiasm and optimism, and a sense of fullness.
Once we finished our noodles, we shared an amazing yuzu baked cheesecake with fresh fruit compote. And we decided that the chef at 5S17 (I should mention that the name refers to the five senses) most likely had a passion for cooking—which was a good thing for us, and for anyone who drops by for a meal.