Someone I used to date once asked me, “Why can’t you just be a teacher?” as I struggled over jobs and dreams and having myriad passions. I do love teaching and deeply respect educators, but it’s not a singular career path I want to take, and I resolve not to date anyone else who would have me whittle my aspirations down to anything beginning with “just.”
Although I write this on Jan. 2, that’s not my New Year’s resolution, but a general life decision. It reminds me of a lovely little scene in Finding Neverland, a 2004 movie in which Johnny Depp played J.M. Barrie. In the scene he is talking with Peter, a young boy who’s already too world-weary to accept Barrie’s imaginative theatrics:
Peter: This is absurd. It’s just a dog.
J.M. Barrie: Just a dog? Just. Porthos, don’t listen!
Porthos dreams of being a bear, and you want to shatter those dreams by saying he’s just a dog? What a horrible candle-snuffing word. That’s like saying, “He can’t climb that mountain, he’s just a man,” or “That’s not a diamond, it’s just a rock.” Just.