Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where does the time go?

Wow, I knew I had been slacking but it has been far too long since I sat down and shared a little bit with the world wide web.  There have been many thoughts and moments where I thought, "Hmm, I should write a blog about that." Alas, those thoughts were fleeting enough that I did not ever actually act upon them.

The basic 411- Life keeps moving.  As we grow and continue to age, time and life take on a more basic reality- it just keeps going.  Stress, sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, and every other emotion that we experience in  life simply happens as each day progresses regardless of our intention. However, it is the choices in how we handle that progress that not only define us, but also direct the additional paths we will follow.  

It is those choices that led me back to the classroom, though it was only dipping my toe back into the water.  An opportunity presented itself to return to the part of teaching that I love- actually teaching.  Though it was only six weeks and five students, it was one of the highlights of my summer.  This foray back into the teaching universe has led to additional opportunities that I have been able to pursue at my leisure, slowly easing myself back into the arena.

Also on the burner, churning and boiling away in the back of my thoughts is the possibility of returning to pursue my Master's degree.  The issue is that I have not fully convinced myself that I am, well for lack of a better term, "smart enough" to actually do this.  Although there are many people who have encouraged and assured me that I am quite capable of this pursuit, at the end of the day it is my own self-concept and perception that matters.  Until I truly feel that this is something within my ability to pursue and complete- the pursuit will remain stalled.  This is true of so many things in life when I look back- that it wasn't until I believed it could truly be, that it truly was.  So the next time you or someone you love is facing a new challenge, try to remember that the support of loved ones is crucial but is not the final thing to tip the scales one way or another; it is what is within us that will finally set the scales in motion towards a final decision about what we can or cannot do in life.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Happiness surrounds

Well, in true blogger style I have failed to post for far too long.  Partially it is because life moves pretty fast, and the other part is because we are less likely to stop and share our feelings out in the ethos when life is good.  Right now, life is good.  It is not that there has not been heartbreak, for life always has its ups and downs; but over all.... life is good!

Recently I went through the extremes of grieving over the end of life and celebrating the joy of new life.  Both gave me the opportunity to reflect on what it means to live and how priorities are selected.  My great uncle Paul passed away just a few days shy of his 101st birthday.  Sitting there reading over the summary of that century of life; for that is all that you can do is provide a brief summary; even those few details spoke volumes about the type of guy he was.  He was married to my aunt Jane for 50 years, remarried several years after her death and was in that marriage for over 10 years.  He then spent the last eight or so years dating a wonderful lady named Edna.  He was caring and kind. He was a veteran, a post master, retired in 1976, spent his time with family, friends and the partners who filled his many years with love.  We should all be so lucky.  Then just a few weeks later I welcomed a new nephew into the world and my heart swelled with love and happiness.  As I sat filling in his baby book with all the random "the world right now" details, I found myself wondering what the world will look like if he were to surpass his 100th birthday in 2114?

Change is the only constant in life.  If life went on from day to day staying exactly the same with absolutely no fluctuations of any kind, it would be boring.  Though change can be scary, change is what keeps us going as well.  Often the best changes come when we are least expecting them.  It was one year ago that I was starting to pack up my classroom, planning for what I thought would be the next step in my life; yet here one year later I could not have predicted in any way what has transpired since that decision to leave the classroom.  I miss teaching, I do; but I don't miss the stress, the frustration, the over whelming amount of time I felt I had to dedicate to that one area of my life.  Life is a journey that follows many winding paths, and the best thing to do is have the courage to follow the path your heart tells you too.  It will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.   If you ever find yourself standing there wondering "is this all there is to my life" or "am I actually happy" also remind yourself that this is but a moment, how much can change and occur in the course of a lifetime- even if it isn't over 100 years.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Stop and Smell the Roses

Over a month into the New Year and frankly, life is going in a much more relaxed and enjoyable direction.  To be honest it is frighteningly normal, thus there is not much of consequence to post in the ether.  However, an article from the Washington Post recently caught my attention for a variety of reasons and has sparked a few thoughts that seemed worth sharing.  Here is the link to this article:
The general premise is that the Post conducted a social experiment with the aid of a world renowned violinist in a Washington DC metro station during the morning rush hour.  The question posed was simple; would people stop and appreciate this remarkable musician or simply rush by in a time driven distraction without a second thought.  The results of this were documented and spoke volumes about the world we find ourselves operating in.  The monumental implications of this simple experiment reach far and wide.  Although this was conducted in 2007, it seems that the results would likely be similar today.
So why did this old article stick out and prompt the clicking sounds of keys on a keyboard- many things.  The first was the violinist- Joshua Bell.  A few years ago, two dear family friends had tickets to the Kansas City Symphony that they gave to my father and I.  Huge fans of music in general this was a first for both of us to go see the KC Symphony live at the Kauffman Center.  One of the featured musicians that day was none other than Joshua Bell.  He is talented, amazing to hear, astounding to watch and most definitely a musician that leaves an impression of the musical beauty that exists in the world.  At the end of 2013 we lost one of those generous friends who afforded us this brilliant experience that is still vividly in my mind.  A subtle reminder of how lucky I was to know her, to call her a second mom, to be able to remember the awesomely wonderful experiences that I was able to have in large part because of her generous spirit and how I will always have that beauty with me forever.
The second is the utter astonishment of how many people simply missed this moment.  Walked past this world famous, highly paid musician, playing an incredibly difficult and complex piece of music on a very expensive instrument like there was nothing worth noticing.  How time obsessed are we in this society; is this possibly the root of our problems and issues in general.  In general it seems to indicate that we become so focused on time that we no longer have the ability to focus on anything else. This general thought process applies to so many things really that connect to our understanding of “time.”  Take for example texting and driving- is there ANY message that I could possible get or miss that is worth my life; that cannot wait another 5, 10 or even 30 minutes- doubtful.  I say this because that information will likely still be the same whether it is read the moment it reaches your phone or once your car is in park.  Don’t believe me, look back through your text history and see if there was any recent message that you simply could not have waited 30 minutes to respond to.  The same can be said for speeding as well, is 5 minutes really going to make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of the places you need to go- probably not.  Sure you might get in a small amount of trouble, or you might even get fired if it is habitual but that is a different issue that has nothing to do with speed, other drivers, or rules of the road. 
We are so obsessed with time and tasks associated with time.  I think back to how many times I was so concerned about what needed to be done that I was unable to really stop and take in what was happening.  The tasks that were somehow associated with a timeline in my mind took over my whole thought process.  Often I would be unable to tell you what I ate for lunch or even who I talked to at lunch because of this.  Now this is even more compounded by the technology we are attached to.  Thinking back can you remember the little things in your day or did you miss them because you were focused on something else that was “time” related in your mind.
The third then is the connection to the message of the experiment.  Could this simple message that we have all heard in our lives truly be the key to those moments of pure happiness that seem to be missing from the world sometimes.  I want to believe that if I had been one of the commuters that day in the DC Metro station that I would have decided that today was a day to be late; that I would have stopped and taken in the beauty and wonder of that experience.  I want to believe that I stop and enjoy the little things in life- the beauty of the falling snow, stories from friends or other loved ones, that I take those moments to focus and clear my mind of all the usual stuff that weighs upon it and just focus. 
Mostly, thinking back over recent events in my life, there is a ping pong match occurring for me.  When I read, or dine out my focus is more often on remembering and savoring the experience that I am having at that moment.  Since the changes in my life I find myself more willing to wait for the trains to pass, taking in some of the amazing (though illegal) art that decorates many of the cars; more willing to slow for pedestrians or other cars; more patient when cleaning off the snow or trying to get through the snow.  Occasionally; however, I do get caught up in the details of time.  I have to get to the bank so I drive less courteously, I get anxious and less patient with others in general.   What’s the rush?  The store will still be there; the bank will be open again tomorrow; work will not cease to function until I appear.  The rush only really occurs when I decide to let it rule, or poorly plan out the general events of my daily life and routine.  This is something that I can control.

So, that is what I have decided to make my resolution for 2014 (yes it may be a bit late in the traditional since of time of year; but a resolution can be made at any given moment if you are resolute in your pursuit of it).  This year I will stop wearing a watch every day and instead only wear it occasionally.  I will stop obsessing with the clocks in my life by either removing them, covering them, or simply training myself to not look at them as often.   I will focus more on moments and the things around me than what is on the future “to do” list.  I will make a concerted effort to plan my general day to day appropriately so that “rush” or “I’ve got to get this done” is no longer a part of my daily vocabulary.  It may not be the answer to everything, but it is a start. This is not to say that time does not have a place in life, it does.  The goal is that life not be driven by time but simply guided by its principle.