Last month, I made a brief trip back to Boston to take care of some business. While in town, I stopped in and hung out at my old writing consultant job for a few hours. During my visit there was a sudden rush of students needing help on upcoming papers. I found myself thrust back into the fray of explaining how to support topic sentences with evidence and writing strong conclusions that wrapped up an essay in neat fashion.

It was exhausting and exhilarating. It was as if I had never left. I was in the zone, doing what I really enjoy. The next few hours flew by and before I knew it, I had to leave. As I walked out, I was happy and felt good about the couple of hours of work I had just put in, like I had made a difference.

Now, back in Texas, I often think about those few hours and it hits me. I miss teaching. It’s not so much the writing that I miss, but the interactions with my students. I miss their questions and watching as understanding spreads across their faces when they finally get a concept I’ve been explaining. I could never pinpoint what it was about teaching that I enjoyed so much until a recent event brought it to my attention.

Last week, I started a taking a class in the morning before work. I envision as something fun to occupy my time, get me out of bed in the morning and possibly make me a little money down the road. Plus, I just like the idea of learning new stuff. At one point during the class I paired up with another student and we went over the various materials presented that day. As we worked, she asked me question of clarification because she was confused about a particular aspect. I answered her and then gave her a quick trick to remember the answer in the future. That’s when I saw it.

She straightened up, cocked her head to one side, blinked and then nodded. “I get it now,” she said. It was that moment when the piece of information clicked and she completely understood it. I had helped her get there and that made me grin. That moment of complete clarity is the moment that teachers live for. It’s that moment that gets us up and out of bed in the morning. I missed that because I don’t get those moments at my job, which makes me sad.

I think a good job, is a job that allows us to strive for those moments, whatever they may be. For me it’s teaching or, maybe more broadly, it’s the sharing of information. The point is, these are the things that make us happy to do the work we do. Now, I just need to find a way back to doing that work.