Diane Rehm,

       Another perfectly gorgeous day here in Washington. Made even more so by a visit from our dear son, David, and his lovely bride of five months, Nancy. David is an assistant professor of philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md. Nancy is a teacher of gifted and talented children at Gettysburg High School. They came to visit and take me out to lunch at DeCarlo’s, one of our favorite restaurants, which is within walking distance of our home. And walk we did, noting the fading rhododendrons here in Washington and contrasting them with those still in full bloom in Gettysburg.
       Being with the two of them helps me to appreciate the incredible dedication and commitment their particular profession demands. Each has taken on far more than just teaching responsibilities: leading seminars, writing papers, directing community plays–all of which has left little time for relaxation. As in any other profession, they’ve had to overcome many obstacles along the way.
       The job of teacher in this day and age carries a heavy load. At the same time, I cringe when I recognize the high expectations and low salaries society offers in return. It’s as though we speak with forked tongues, demanding more and more from teachers, placing more students in classrooms, asking them to assume some of the social training that used to be done in the home, and then harshly criticizing them when it becomes clear they can’t to do it all.
       They (David, Nancy, and all the other dedicated teachers out there) didn’t get into this profession with the expectation of earning lots of money, that’s for sure. They are teachers because they believe in and love what they’re doing. I think it is their good fortune that they have found each other and can support each other in this endeavor. I also think they’re lucky, because they’re doing exactly what they want to do.
       In the same way, I feel I am a very lucky person. For the past 20 years I’ve had the opportunity to talk with the most fascinating people in the world and to share with my guests the thoughtful comments of listeners. There’s never been a guest on the program who hasn’t remarked about the experience of talking with the amazing people who are in our listening audience. Talk radio of that variety doesn’t happen by accident. Those of us who have worked on the program over the years have worked hard to make it the best we possibly could. We’ve done it not because we felt obligated to do it. We’ve done it because we’ve loved doing it.
       To my mind, there’s no greater privilege in life than doing work you love. At this moment, as I whisper and await with optimism and impatience (and some worry, to be honest) the return of my voice following last week’s Botox injection, I think that, no matter what happens, I share with my son and daughter-in-law that notion of having tried to do the very best job I could. Reaching their professional goals took years of educational training and discipline. In my own case, I was given a gift, a totally unexpected opportunity. I hope I’ve used that gift wisely and can resume my place at the microphone before too long.