Thursday, August 11, 2011


This summer, while cleaning the pool, I would listen to an NPR podcast called "On Being." One of the most memorable was one with Sylvia Boorstein.

In it Boorstein talks a Lovingkindness meditation where we are reminded to be kind to ourselves and quiet the inner critic. She said this as a method of getting through hard moments:

"Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax, take a breath, let's pay attention to what is happening, then we'll figure out what to do."

Sweetheart. Sweetheart.

It is not often what I call myself "sweetheart", but I did on Wednesday morning. As I sat in the parking lot outside of school, I needed to say this to myself. "Sweetheart. Sweetheart. Take a breath. It's going to be all right."

See my mind was whirling with all those perplexing questions. The ones that go:
"What if..."
"When will I..."
"How will I..."
"How will we..."
and so on and so forth.

I took a deep breath. I quieted my polluted mind. I sat. I prayed. I walked inside. Sometimes such a small, brief encounters can change the day.

When Mr. G asked, "How are you?", I told him (I know, crazy right?).

"I'm okay. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I'm not sure that I want to be a teacher so it's hard to be here and tackle this massive mound of work in front of me if I'm not even sure this is what I'll end up doing. I'm grateful to be here and have you and Mr. F for help. I guess I'm just feeling . . unsure."

He didn't get mad.
He didn't say I was a bad student teacher.
Instead he said, "Oh, I get that! It took me ten years to figure out I wanted to teach. Take your time. This experience will still be meaningful for you whether or not you end up teaching later. The organization, energy, guts, creativity, and critical thinking it takes to do your student teaching will not be wasted if you choose to do something else."

He immediately put me at ease. No, I don't have to be absolutely sold on this for it to be worth it. It's a journey just like everything else. I'll figure those other details out later. The rest of the day was easier. Lighter. Funner (oh yes, she did).

If each day of my life were to be labeled with a valuable lesson I learned, I feel like 80% of them would be labeled: "Today I learned grace." Over and over and over again because, it's such an easy thing to forget.

The interview with Sylvia Boorstein ended with this grace-full poem by Pablo Neruda.

"Keeping Quiet"

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment,
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps the huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of frightening ourselves with death.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.