“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
Being a teacher means you have to be an unself-conscious performer. A big part of the job is holding the attention of the class, and to do that you have to be an entertainer. So even though I am not a public singer, when teaching about a certain class of medications (the ‘beta-blockers’) which mostly end in the same suffix, I burst into that old Inner Circle reggae song and change the lyrics slightly ‘…-olol –olol –olol…’. I actually never liked the song originally (‘Girl I gonna make you sweat’) but it is very effective. If you don’t know me, to see a white woman bursting into reggae tunes (accompanied by the reggae bounce) will certainly grab your attention.
And sometimes the song isn’t a reggae tune. The traditional folk song ‘On top of old Smokey’ helps me to remind people of the very important adrenal glands that sit ‘on top of my kidneys’. Did I mention I don’t have the best solo voice? But if you are going to stand in front of a class or any group of people, you cannot worry about how you look, what you sound like, or whether or not you can draw (which I can, in case you were wondering – ask any of my students. They know I can because I tell them I can!). You just have to be.
One of the ways that we make our lives harder is by fighting the inevitable. So many of us resist the thought of growing older, we chafe at the changes that life puts us through. An important phrase I learned when I went back to school at age 50 was ‘it is what it is’. We burn through so much valuable energy by fighting things that we have no control over, no ability to change. Like the serenity prayer tells us, we need to be able to recognize the difference between those things we can change, and those things we simply have to accept. Admittedly, there are some situations which need to be changed, which appear to be non-tranformable, and which call for exceptional people with exceptional determination.
But often we spend our time complaining, bemoaning, criticizing, and generally depleting our resources on things we just have to accept. And the wonderful thing about acceptance, is that it removes that weight, that burden of resistance. I wise (though uneducated) man once said to me, ‘When you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, it does feel good when you stop’. Many of us fail to recognize that we are hitting our heads against a brick wall – but what a difference when you have the good sense to stop.
When you accept your life as the blessing that it is, full of rich experiences and wonderful gifts, then contentment follows. If instead you count the things you don’t have, the place you expected to be in life, the goals unattained, then you will become bitter and angry. But the amazing thing about seeing what you have as plenty, as enough, it opens you up to more blessings, and then every experience is a bonus.
Acceptance doesn’t mean being passive, letting people walk all over you. It requires an active appreciation for what life throws at you. And sometimes by changing the label you put on things you turn them from a negative into a positive. A traffic jam may become a moment for you to reflect, or to make a (hands-free) phone call to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. For those in school, doing badly on a test may make you recalibrate, recognize that you didn’t put in the right amount of time or effort. Nursing students have to take ‘dosage calculation’ tests, doing math without calculators (yes, really!). They learn not to make mistakes on paper that could have serious outcomes in the real world.
This week as we get ready for another great South Florida reunion (CC massive are you ready? Are you re-he-he-heady?) it can be a time of last minute worry and stress; wondering if you have remembered everything, did you do enough. OR, it can be a wonderful time of anticipation, eagerness to once more see the joy and pleasure on the faces of people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company, over and over again. And when you accept that you may forget things, you may not have everything perfect, but appreciate the spirit of those who come together to have a good time for the benefit of others, then can come the contentment.
This weekend I hope you can recognize those moments when you are fighting an unwinnable battle and change your tactics. If you can’t change a situation, change the way you react to it. Sometimes it is not good to be ‘putting up a resistance’ (I sing the Beres song when I am teaching about the resistance in our blood vessels that makes our blood pressure go up!). My father used to quote the very interesting Bible verse: ‘It is hard for you to kick against the pricks’ which had to do with some tool they used to persuade the ox to keep moving. Instead of fighting and causing yourself more pain, just go with the flow, and allow the challenges of life to take you to a new place, a different level. You need your energy for things you can change.
Have a wonderful weekend Family! Embrace the tests and trials that you face as wonderful opportunities to find your potential!