Balance exists in our lives. It is not always easy to see, and if you subscribe to certain eastern philosophies, you may never recognize this balance as it permeates myriad lifetimes. But, as I accuse some people of the need to turn to religion, I need to believe that there is balance in my life. Sometimes it is the last thread of hope you can hold onto to keep from doing really outrageous shit (not that outrageous shit is always something to be avoided, maybe I should have said reactionary shit… I digress.)
When someone says horrible things to me, I see these words floating in front of me and I wonder if I should collect them in my consciousness, or in any way.
What happens if you just let them float by?
What happened today when I let them float by is that I saw other words. I saw these words from a student I worked with long ago, who touched my heart because he had one:
Someone posted our yearbook “wills” and “thank you’s” on Facebook. I haven’t looked at mine in 10 years, but the last thing in it was “…thank you Ms. XXXXX for valuing my opinion and thereby giving me confidence”.
Now, it is usually in hindsight that I see the true value of my relationships with others. I don’t doubt that at the time I meant it, but it isn’t until now looking back I realize the validity of the statement. Kids are lucky to have you as a teacher and friend.
I looked at those words, and I smiled. It made me feel a kind of gratitude I don’t know if I can articulate. Then I looked at a card I received from a student I worked with last year.
Your willingness to help despite my attitude has been one of the most selfless acts I have seen. Maybe you were just doing your job, but whatever the case was, my family and I are extremely grateful. I regret not getting to know you better earlier. This little rinky dink card is nothing compared to the gratitude I feel you deserve… but hey, I’m broke, my mom took your budget project OH-SO-SERIOUSLY. Out of all the teachers I’ve had in my 12 years of learning, your name is one we will never forget. Thank you Ms. XXXXX so so so much.
I wonder if these young people will ever know how grateful I am to have them touch my life and remind me that compassion breeds compassion, and that there is hope for the future; these are immeasurable gifts.
I saw one of my favorite authors yesterday and listened to him speak about the importance of what I do for a living, and of the nature of his most recent work, and I felt the words settle on me like a perfectly selected outfit. When we spoke after, very briefly, and recalled the last time we met in a far away place and time that we both remembered, I felt, not exactly special, but deeply connected to a larger, truly significant reality. “California looks good on you,” he said. “Your book was too true,” I said. And then he knew and I knew. Maybe how not to be lost, but how to be free.