That Which We Can’t Control

Maureen Cumming picBy Maureen Cummings – There are trying times that we invite into our lives as a repercussion of loving someone else. When I answered his call to find a held breath on the other end followed by a crack in his voice while he told me of his mother’s passing, when she laid curled up at the bottom of my bed and could only describe herself as numb, or the many months we entertained the same conversation of self-worth and when the beauty evident to all those around her never once seemed to reflect back in the mirror.

I’ve had moments. We may all recall many moments, like these, those of helplessness that we are somehow tasked to turn into moments of strength.

To teach is to invite these moments in.

While education thrives off of success stories, accomplishments, and moments of growth, these are moments built, carved by the trying times our human condition leaves us vulnerable to.

Teaching is not simply teaching, and I don’t need an education degree to tell you that.

Teaching is exciting while also challenging. Teaching is a passion, while also a moral imperative. Teaching is all these things, but teaching is also an invitation to a long list of moments from each student to which teachers must enter into the lives of their class at whatever level each may need.

Teaching may be hosting a room full of students mourning the loss of their fellow classmate days before graduation. Teaching may be the late night call from a girl sobbing in her dorm room bathroom begging to miss the midterm after an unexpected death in the family. I know this because these are my moments that needed a teacher’s invitation.

Teaching is Linda Cliatt-Wayman, principal of a failing school, who claims the key to fixing a broken school lies in a few policy changes, an innovated curriculum, and a reminder to students each morning over the intercom that “If nobody told you they love you today, remember I do and I always will.”

Whether you are in the field of education or not, your professional life won’t be immune, and you will be asked to take in someone else’s moments.

This is not exclusively a teacher’s responsibility, or a friend’s responsibility, or a parent’s. This is a human responsibility.

While considering this I thought, if surrounded by moments we can’t control, what are moments we can?

This was a tough question to consider, but soon after I was delighted by it. There are moments we can control. We can control the moment in which we remind someone that he or she is loved.

With this in mind, I write to remind us all, myself included: Call your mom. Hug your dad. Hold the door. Say thank you. Do what you know is right. Ask yourself if what you are doing is kind and realize that everyone is someone’s somebody. Remind your somebody that he or she is just that.

Hold the conversation you are scared of. Invite in the moments of others and hold their hand for as long as they may need. Stand up for the person that needs it. Find passions that better someone else’s world and do something every day that requires you to go out of your way for someone else.

Love with a sense of urgency.

Forgive yourself when you don’t, and try again.

Forgive yourself again, and try differently.

Wherever you are in your life, whoever you are, whatever life circumstances lead your eyes to the bottom of this article, know that your life will fill itself with uncontrolled moments, and the more you love, the more you invite other’s uncontrolled moments in. But with this seemingly paralyzing responsibility, don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate that moment you can control in another’s life – the moment you remind them that they are loved.

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