Here's one of the beauties of being a teacher.
Last night I had the opportunity to perform at the Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston as a part of The Moth's GrandSLAM championship.
It was the 20th GrandSLAM in my storytelling career, and on my birthday no less.
The Cutler Majestic is a spectacular theater that seats 1,200 people, and last night the theater was packed. I was telling stories alongside some of my favorite storytellers from the Boston area and some new storytellers who were spectacular. One particular woman told the story of raising a baby pig that sent my spirits soaring and broke my damn heart.
It was perfection. A story that I will remember forever.
The host of the evening was the brilliant Bethany Van Delft, who I am always thrilled and honor to share the stage, and the producers of the show were also some of my favorites.
I even adore the sound guy.
I had many friends in the audience. Folks from Connecticut and locals from my days of living in Massachusetts. Storytellers from the area who I am so proud to now call my friends. Elysha Dicks was sitting beside me. It was a grand night.
I told a story about my love for the New England Patriots, and my choice of the Patriots over a woman. It's a story I love to tell. It always brings me such joy to tell stories from that period of my life just after high school, when I was living with my best friend, struggling to survive. Those were such great days.
At the end of the night, I was declared the winner of the GrandSLAM. It was my fifth GrandSLAM victory. As several audience members pointed out, I've got as many wins now as Tom Brady. It was sweet.
A perfect birthday.
Here was my very first thought when I awoke this morning:
"Linda was so good."
Linda Storms, a woman who first heard me on The Moth Radio Hour years ago then started coming to my storytelling workshops and performing for Speak Up, was also competing in the GrandSLAM last night. She told the last story of the night, and she did so brilliantly. She was vulnerable and eloquent and funny. Her story was perfectly crafted and so honestly told. She could not have been better. She was fantastic.
That is what I thought first when I awoke today. I thought of Linda, my friend and student, shining on that beautiful stage like the star that she is.
This is the beauty of teaching. You have the opportunity to experience so much joy in the success of those who you have taught, and oftentimes that joy in a student's success can be more important and meaningful than your own. You sit in quiet rooms and teach the skills and strategies to help someone realize their dream, and when you're really lucky, you get to sit back and watch that dream realized right before your eyes.
Watching Linda on that stage last night was the perfect end to a perfect birthday for me.