Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back to school, ring the bell

First day of school. It was fun meeting the kids. They're overall a very sweet group. I had one boy and one girl cry coming in, but they both calmed down before fifteen minutes had passed. Today was a day of just easing into the routines. For example, I took them to drama and music class, but we only stayed a few minutes, just long enough to get used to the idea of going. Mostly I went over my room rules and my expectations, as well as the physical layout of the room. I read Mr. Monkey's Classroom, and the kids drew pictures on the covers of their writing journals. They seemed to go home happy, and that's the important thing.

So I ended the day utterly exhausted. Six hours of sleep, worrying about my father, and having no breaks all day (that'll change, but this week it's rough, with briefer specials classes and lunch in the room with the kids).

An administrator went around taking photos of all the kids. About an hour later, she dropped off the pictures, printed out. I showed them to one boy, G, and he looked wonderingly at them. "How did you know what we would be wearing?" he asked, thinking the photos had been prepared in advance.


As a kid, I hero-worshiped my father, despite his occasional drug binges. I forgave him everything. Gradually, over the decade or so after college, the scales fell from my eyes and I saw that he could be an irrational, weak-willed, impatient, and unsympathetic person. There's nothing worthy of condemnation in that --- we are all, every one of us, those things, at least at times --- but worse, I saw him clearly as a haunted, depressed figure, never satisfied and always believing fervently in the next magic fix. And I don't mean that in terms of drugs entirely, though that figured in prominently; I mean that he always believed that the thing he didn't have or the place he wasn't in was better.

Obviously, I've inherited some of those traits, as well.

When I was younger, I heard of Ram Dass' mantra, "Be here now." I considered it, while not exactly the stupidest thing ever, at least utterly meaningless. But now that I'm old and wize(nd), the simple beauty and truth of it seems clear to me.

Too many people are unhappy in their own skin, always worried about what they don't have or what they might have later. Or they rely on external things for their own happiness. And I'm not talking about a clueless neo-hippie attack on material goods (because I know that material goods can, in fact, make you happier), but something less simplistic --- yet also more basic. It's simply that if you're unhappy because of your situation, you will likely always be unhappy no matter what the situation. Obviously, there are exceptions, because some situations are utterly crushing. But on the whole, it seems true to me that discontent lives within.

I'm not sure that's it, exactly. Perhaps I just mean this. You can't depend on other people or elusive things, even intangible things, for your happiness. There's no "if only." We should strive to just be, here and now. Just be content? Or maybe not even content, but at least not discontented.

All the above verbiage relates together, in a convoluted way, but I can't really express what I thought made sense when I began writing it. So never mind. As you were!


Michael5000 said...

That's a wicked sharp kid who, thinking the pictures had been prepared in advance, noticed right away that the clothes in the pictures matched what everyone was wearing.

As I was! Here! Now!

Churlita said...

I try not to be a grass is greener person. If I'm not happy where I am, then I start looking at what needs to be fixed. Except at work, I'm actually happy to be here now.

Rebel said...

I think I know what you're saying about being happy in your current situation...but I don't really agree.

I mean, there are people who will be (more or less) happy whatever their circumstances. And there are people who will be (more or less) miserable whatever their circumstances are. And then there are the masses us of who are just trying to make the best of things.

I know my last work situation was really horrible for me. It didn't fit who I was at all. It drained me and I was very unhappy. It took a lot of effort to drag myself out of that cycle of misery. But I did drag myself out of it. And I think that's the key. When you realize you're unhappy with your situation, or you're unhappy in your own skin, are you going to make the changes (either internally or externally) to improve the situation... or are you going to sit and whine about it for the rest of your life?

Because there's a point at which you need to shit or get off the pot - you know?