Saturday, December 1, 2012

Starfish and Dash

My close friends know this time of year always sends me off kilter. This year is no different. I attended my aunt's funeral yesterday. I had not seen her in many years nor had my mom. Not really sure why, other than my family is my family (which is a long and sorted story). The pastor gave a lovely service where he called upon the group to say a word that described my aunt, or share a story about her. I thought it was a great way to make the funeral what it should be, a celebration and remembrance of someone. He read two stories that I've heard before but they were much needed right about now.
The first:

How Do You Live Your Dash?
~Linda Ellis~ 
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning….. to the end
He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard….
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider whats true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile….
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
And the second:
 Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"
I can't help but be reminded that my life is always as it should be. I have struggled this school year with so many things but these two stories are swimming in my head right now and helping me understand a bit.

I have to know that I cannot make a difference in all my student's lives but if I just make a difference in one or a few it DOES mean something. I can't be upset that those darned 8th graders make me frustrated, shed tears or want to melt down. I need to look at the one(s) I am reaching. I need to feel good about the ones who know my name and say it (instead of the generic Miss). My frustration to me is a good thing because it reminds me I care and want to do the best I can. If I'm doing something that isn't working, I want to fix it. If I can do something I'm doing a little better I will. I care. I like this about myself. I think the thing that is the toughest right now is the feeling of being alone. I work in the basement at school with just one other teacher. She is great but we rarely have time to chat or connect. The teachers bring their students to my room, and drop them off or pick them up without much of a hello or friendly smile. So I am certainly missing the feeling of being connected with the adults in my school. I'm told being a specials teacher is usually like this. I don't like that! My aloneness continues as I come home to be alone some more. I want to find a way to make this better for myself in both aspects of my life. Again- I care and I always am wanting to do better for myself and others. Perhaps I need to just let go of the handle of control and let the wind carry me. To not be afraid to walk alone or to like it, embrace it and accept it.

The other story about the dash is timely as well. It makes me think about how I am spending this dash of mine. Makes me think at my eulogy how will my dash be talked about? 

My life is as it should be. 

(This post is more of me needing to reflect and reset a bit with my whole attitude. Have felt quite negative lately and that is not a place I enjoy being.)

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