It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Today started out as most days do lately, I hit the snooze button more than once, I stretched my very stiff legs, and eventually slid out of bed and hobbled my way to the shower. Mornings are difficult. Some days I feel like the the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. I want to cry, “Oil can.”
When I got to school I had to collect and bag up the 90 shamrocks I spray glittered before I left yesterday and clean up the mess I made while doing it. Eight members of the NJHS were visiting the local assisted living facility to play St. Patrick’s Day trivia with the residents. We were bringing the shamrocks to brighten up their rooms.
As the day wore on, my desk became piles on top of piles, and I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to be able to finish grading. The end of the trimester nerves were beginning to set in. By the end of the day, I was tired and starting to calculate how long it would be before I was home and able to put my feet up for a little bit.
It was finally time for me to head over to Springhouse Estates. Just like the last time, the kids were great. They interacted with the residents, laughed at the way the women and one man interacted with each other, and answered all the questions posed to them. We finished our planned activity a little early, so I asked the residents to offer the 8th graders some words of advice.
“Don’t worry, be happy.”
“Go to church every Sunday.”
“Travel while you are young.”
These were a few of their pearls of wisdom. As I listened I couldn’t help but be moved by the positive attitudes of these people who were on walkers, in wheelchairs, on oxygen, and motorized scooters. They were so happy and kept thanking the students for coming to see them. They were quick to share their stories, and the kids were attentive listeners.
Some mornings when my knees are locked from being in the same position all night, or when I am pulling myself up the stairs at school one step at a time I feel old. I wonder how I got to this place. I teeter on the brink of falling into a deep abyss of despair. It would be easy to do.
But today I was reminded that how I look at things doesn’t matter; it is what I see. Today I saw people who have experienced many, many things in their lives, and are not able to do the things they once did, but it does not stop them from finding joy in the little things each day. It does not stop them from being grateful.
I am not negating my aches and pains because they are real and sometimes very intense, but I have to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for. I will keep the memory of this afternoon close to my heart, and when I get feeling sorry for myself use it to give myself a smack down. These senior sages have reminded me that the moments slip by too quickly to see what is right in front of me.