Monday, August 15, 2011
A Different View
When I drove into the parking lot of school this morning, I was grateful to see there were no other cars. My first day back after two years away, and I struggled to quiet the fear and anxiety that grew louder during my drive from home, like a geiger counter approaching uranium. I pulled around to the back of the building, just outside my room, and let myself in as quietly as possible. Almost like I was sneaking in, shy to be there.
I'd been prepared for the worst. Expecting dregs as far as furniture and supplies, knowing that all the good stuff would have been scavenged by other teachers at the end of last year. It wasn't the worst, but neither was it good. As I stood in the middle of the room, adjusting to the reality of what I had to work with, I noticed the floors weren't clean.
My original plan had been to go in last week and get started with set-up and planning. I wanted to work my way back into the groove slowly, a few hours at a time. That was derailed by a last-minute directive from our principal to stay out of the building until today, because the custodians needed the extra time to finish the floors.
My initial reaction was to ignore the message and go in anyway. I was mad at the restriction after having been told I could go in early, then upset that my first contact with the new year resulted in my being mad. After listening to the calm counsel of a thoughtful friend, I decided it was wiser (and easier) to accept the change. The result was an extra week of freedom: time with friends, soaking up sun, reading, finishing home projects.
Today I expected to put in a full day to make up for the time I lost last week. But uncleaned carpets and unpolished tiles meant I was stymied. At first I considered moving in anyway, pretending I didn't know the floors weren't done. There was a time when I would have done just that, justifying my actions with my need and the promised completion time.
Instead I went in search of the custodian and information.
As I tracked the sound of her footsteps, I reminded myself to stay focused on what is important and what is not. What matters is relationship, balance, and kindness. Anything attempted or gained through any other means is poisoned. It's not personal. Not about me in any way. None of it. The only thing that's about me is how I respond to what's presented.
When I found her, she seemed surprised to see me in the building, but was friendly. She's new since I was last there. Her name is Glinda (yes, like the Good Witch—I asked), which made me like her instantly. I had to restrain myself from interviewing her on the spot, but I look forward to learning what has to be a wonderful story, both about how she got her name and how it's influenced her life. Instead I asked about the floors, and learned the crew had lost three weeks of work time this summer because of circumstances beyond their control. I explained my time issues. She told me she'd get my carpet done today. I can move in tomorrow.
So I got my soft entry back to school, found the start to an intriguing new story, and gained one more day of freedom. More importantly, I got to see what happens when I shift my view of things just a little. When I choose not to listen to the voice that tells me to fight, and instead seek understanding and connection.
Tomorrow, I'm sure there will be many more opportunities for me to choose the softer view as I begin my search for furniture.