Today was a special day in my life. It marked the start of an exciting new adventure and the closing of a beloved chapter. I had my first official call of the Praxis program, and I celebrated my last recital and graduation as a teacher. As I’ve been preparing for this day and these emotions over the last few weeks, I’ve developed a small list of songs that resonate with and inspire me in this period of my life. Here they are:
1. "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens
This song is about a dialogue between a father and son, but for me it represents the internal conversation I had with myself in the months leading up to applying for Praxis. I had to choose to stay on a course I’d chosen for myself when I was 15, a course that was good in a lot of ways, or to take a risk and forge a new path that was filled with the hope, excitement, and risks of the unknown. I chose the latter, and just as the son in the song does, leaving that old life behind. The struggle and resolution in the song serve as catharsis and confirmation for me. I am overwhelmed by a sense of peace and rightness with the world when I listen to it.
2. "Just Around the Riverbend" from Disney’s Pochahontas
This song is about making a pivotal choice, somewhat similar to “Father and Son” but framed in a different way. Here Pochahontas must choose between a comfortable yet predictable life or an uncertain yet adventurous one. Before applying to Praxis, I felt like I could see the decades of my life stretching out ahead of me, and while they would be filled with many joys, I knew that I would not be satisfied. I needed the potential for radical changes, unexpected opportunities, and adventures. This song reminds me of why I made my choice and makes me delight in the deliciousness of uncertainty.
3. "My Shot" from Hamilton
When I listen to “Hamilton” I experience the truly sublime. It is an end in itself for me. The music is so powerful, so beautiful, I can’t help but feel that life is perfect in those moments. “My Shot” is all about having the guts to seize your moment of opportunity. It serves as inspiration to me in that space just outside my comfort zone, that place where I'm terrified, but where I grow and become more. When I’m there, I always face a choice: to resist and retreat back into the comfort zone, or to challenge myself, dive in, and make the most of my shot.
4. "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music
I saw “The Sound of Music” for the first time when I was 4 and it has stuck with me as a source of enjoyment and encouragement ever since. To me, this song is about that “fake it til you make it” mentality—that ability to resolve to do something without necessarily knowing exactly how you’ll do it. It also reminds me to have a growth mindset instead an achievement mindset when faced with challenges—to view them as the means to learn and grow, not a way to prove how perfect I am.
5. "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson
It’s so easy to look around us and identify all sorts or problems and excuses standing in our way of getting what we want out of life. I'm just as good at it as the next fellow. This song is my wake-up call and my accountability song. It reminds me that the only thing I have control over in this life is me. Not circumstances, not other people, not geopolitics, just me. To live the life I want, there is one way to get there and it’s through my own actions. Period.