Sunday, September 30, 2007
“We are who and where and what we are…for now.
This is the only moment, we can do anything about.”
There is a poem I heard a few years ago that really hit me hard when I first came across it. The poem illustrates the two types of people that are out there…builders, and wreckers…
I passed one day though a busy town,
and saw them tearing a building down.
With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a husky yell,
they swung a beam and a side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
The kind you’d hire if you had to build?”
“No,” he chuckled. “No indeed,
the common laborer is all I need.
I can easily destroy in a day or two,
what builders have taken weeks to do.”
I thought to myself as I went on my way,
which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
strengthening lives by rule and square,
shaping my peers to a well-made plan,
helping them do the best they can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
content with the labor of tearing down?
The more often we make one certain type of decision, the easier it is to make similar choices in days to come. Like a trickle of water which entrenches itself deeper and deeper into layers of ancient sandstone—one day to form a canyon—so are the type of actions we choose day to day, that cut their way into the sandstone of our habits, forming our character.
“Always be a little kinder than necessary.” ~James M. Barrie
One of the choices we make in this life is how we will treat those around us, whether they are our friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances. We can make a decision to be kind, or to be unkind. We can choose to build them up, or to tear them down. Like an artist’s painting which may take days, weeks, or even months to complete, building up of others can happen, however, this work takes time. Yet, it only takes a moment to destroy the priceless masterpiece—it is so much easier to tear a person down than to build them up.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” - George Washington Carver
A few years ago I had a student in my class whom I’ll call “Joey.” Joey was a bit behind his classmates in academics as well as in sporting ability. He was not a perfect kid. Joey was also a little bit different from his classmates and this made it hard for him to make good friends.
You see, many kids would look at him on the outside, and judge him based solely on this. So often, they’d merely hear something about him from somebody else and take this as being truth. They wouldn’t try to get to know him, but instead let somebody else’s ideas become the new reality of this boy. Many kids would tease him because he was an easy target, tearing him down, and making fun of him for the things which were different about him.
I watched with anguish as this boy made mistakes, and then would be teased by those around him. I tried to help, but unfortunately you cannot control the spiteful actions people can sometimes do…I saw him slowly being worn down by his peers—his classmates, those who should have been his friends.
I hoped that things would get better for Joey in middle school, that with a larger group of kids he would be given a fair chance and have the opportunity to make more friends. Unfortunately, this was not the case. His “reputation” followed him, spurned on by the cutting remarks by those who’d known him in grade school. In middle school he still had a problem finding good friends…people that could truly see the boy who was there.
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” - T.H. Thompson
This last week, Joey came by to say hello. He shared with me that he only has one friend now in school and that it’s hard for him. When I asked him what could be done, he said, “Nothing. People just don’t give me a chance…they won’t even try to get to know me.”
When he left my classroom I did a lot of thinking about this boy. I also have thought a lot about the things I have chosen to do in my own life. I am forced to look at myself and ask the hard question…who have I often chosen to be? Have I been a builder who works with care with all those around me? Or have I chosen to be a wrecker who tears down? I guess there have been times in my life where I have been both of these. It is my goal to try to be the person who builds, rather than he that simply destroys…we are all works in progress and need to remember that tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to do better than we have before.
It's time for letting go, of all of our “if onlies”
Cause we don't have a time machine.
And even if we did, would we really want to use it?
Would we really want to go change everything?
Cause we are who and where and what we are for now
And this is the only moment we can do anything about.
- Steven Curtis Chapman
My goal is to seize the “miracle of the moment” while it is yet mine.
“A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” - Dave Barry
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
This has been an eventful weekend. I say “eventful” in regards to not a lot of physical actions going on the outside of me, however, on the microscopic levels I was literally teeming with hordes of activity…in other words, I was sick.
It all started out on Friday morning with a migraine…migraines in the morning are not what I recommend to anyone, as it starts off the day terribly! With the help of a little Excedrin and a hot shower I was able to get it to leave, but that was nothing compared to what was coming up. As the day wore to evening I started to feel—in the words of Matchbox 20—Unwell.
Not knowing what lay in store for when I woke up on Saturday morning I went to bed that night with plans to go to
All of Saturday was spent indoors, in bed, under blankets, and being exceeding bored. I did manage to watch about 5 episodes of “The X Files” my sister had lent me so it made it somewhat more bearable, though even television gets old after a few hours and one just wants to be up and out. I have had friends tell me before that they actually enjoy the downtime they get when they are sick…just being able to lie there for hours on end and sleep. Not me…I was ready to be up and out, however, my body once-again more wisely warned against going out in public. I was grateful for night to come and for sleep to overtake me—still feeling terrible.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
There were numerous times Joey would help others and include them in the games he played at recess. I found myself ashamed that I had judged someone so quickly and had been ready to not even give them a chance. This was a boy who taught me that we should not be so quick to judge others…for, if we do, we will undoubtedly find ourselves wrong in many instances. I believe that Mother Teresa summed it up best when she said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” We should try be as loving and as accepting as we possibly can, after all, we want to be accepted and loved by those around us.
Well, I finally broke down and went up to the Utah State Fair last night and all I have to say is that it was quite the experience. It has been several years since I had been up to a fair and I had forgotten the “trailer trash” feeling I always get while I am there. Also, there always comes that undeniable urge to go home and take a shower after touching anything. I think what made it so memorable were all of the bad haircuts on kids (probably done by parents or when the kid was playing with the weed eater), people who thought that $6 for a corndog and $10 for a beer was a total deal, and a sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco formed completely out of butter...ah, the thrills of a state fair!
While I was at the fair I also met David Farland, an author of more than 50 books! It amazed me that there are these individuals who worked really hard at something, and then were able to do it for a living. While I walked around the displays and tried really hard not to touch anything, I thought of my own life and all of the “little” things that I can do but feel that I am more of a “jack of all trades and master of none.”
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I took a journey back in time today…I found a box of memorabilia…yearbooks, photos, and a book of thoughts from a decade ago. I found myself reliving those days and moments, caught in a moment in time. I stayed awake until nearly 3 a.m. while Bryan Adams’ song, Heaven, was running through my thoughts like a gust of wind blowing through the distant canyons on a star filled night…
“Oh - thinking about all our younger years,
There was only you and me,
We were young and wild and free…”
As I listened to the soundtrack of my life playing along with the images and memories I came to realize that though it is great to reminisce about days gone by, I would never want to return to them. I look where I am now, and the conveniences that we have today and I have to ask, would I really want to go back to a cassette player and a VCR?
No, I wouldn’t.
However, sometime in the future will I reminisce about these days that I currently reside in? Will I look upon them with fondness? I guess that will all be determined by the choices I am making today, won’t it?
It was Cubbi Gummi in Walt Disney’s “The Gummi Bears” show who once wisely said:
“Though the first step begins it all and the last one ends the quest, the long steps which come in between most certainly are the best.”So though it may be fun to take an occasional trip to yesteryear, I would never want to go back and live there.
Make the journey worth taking…
Life changes so rapidly and often things I have taken for granted and thought would always be there, I now find vanishing like chilly mist before the rising sun. It is often after the fact that I realize just how important these things or people were, and how much I did not realize their importance while they were mine. I thought they would always be there…but life changes and moves on, stopping for no person; marching on relentlessly like a soldier into battle.
I need to remember that all things in this life are temporary and learn to enjoy them while they are mine, but also to remember that they will not be here forever. Likewise, the bad times are temporary as well and I will not be forced to endure them for eternity. A friend of mine once said something to the effect of: “If you suddenly find yourself going through Hades, keep going through it or you'll always be there.”
The bottom line is that the present is called the present for a reason…because every day we open it anew and we never quite know what it will be. Let's choose to enjoy it while it is ours.