To say it has been a stressful year is to make a huge understatement.
I wrote. A lot. But still didn't make traction on my story/stories or my blog.
Mostly because my year was mournful.
~My mother passed away in June after an intense 5-week battle with lung cancer. ~My friend from school passed away from her intense battle with breast cancer. ~Teachers battled intensely on every front, the stigma society placed on us of being 'union thugs' and 'careless with their taxes.' (So while society tried to bridle us, we choked and spit and found ourselves still trying to hold the kids above the river we were all crossing, yet we knew these new tests would pull many of our children away from our grips. And still society wore us down by blaming us and claiming they were merely 'holding us accountable'...it was as if those-not-in-education had all suddenly lost their ability to reason and remember that kids do not do their best learning (nor do we do our best teaching) in linear standardized fashions.) ~Super Storm Sandy slammed into the East Coast and many felt as though we were seeing a third world country hit by disaster, not a land a mere 200 miles away. ~The loss of more than one student and more than one parent of a student due to accidents, drug overdoses and illnesses. ~The loss of friends' children from seizures, strokes, infections, and depression. Then something even heavier happened a couple of weeks ago, after several shootings at movie theaters, malls and colleges...there was a shooting in an elementary school and we lost again. And last week two volunteer firefighters lost their lives and two others have to fight for theirs because they were shot while responding to a fire.
Gun control. Mental illness. Mother relationships. Hero teachers. Who knows what the answer will be?
Who knows what the question is?
I'm going to take a poke at this. What if...the 'question' is --what the hell is going on?
What if the answer is...'us?'
What I mean is...what if by our way of 'Being' we are culling 'Others.' What if we find it so easy to blame others--ie teachers, firemen, police officers-- for our financial issues, so we cut the numbers of teachers, aides, secretaries, custodians, etc and by doing that we make it so children feel they are considered less important. What if they get lost in the shuffle...especially at the same time as we increase teacher evaluations (ie time teachers have to prep to prove themselves which means more time away from students) and standardized tests. What if those students feel even more pushed away from 'belonging.' What if we stop providing services for the many who need it and support for their families. What if we claim we have rights the Founding Fathers gave us--when did they become Gods?--and do we really think they ever imagined anything stronger than a musket that takes a full minute to reload when they wrote that amendment (you can keep your handguns, but do we really need assault weapons in the streets? I prefer my police and military to have that responsibility.) What if we didn't wait until a crisis to reach out to one another? What if firemen and police officers were respected every day and not just when they give their lives or a pair of boots? What if we supported science to research the ills that plague us?
What if we smiled more at one another? What if we randomly hugged our friends and family and said "I love you" "I am proud of you."
I have no answers, but I know that this year kicked me when I was down and stepped on my heart daring me to try to get back up again. I know many people who just couldn't get back up right away, too. We cried on one another's shoulders, we wrote, we tried to find a way to pull our selves and one another back up. And struggled trying to find joy again.
And many of us had so much weight pushing down. So much. How do we get back up?
I watched (from facebook) two friends I knew in high school fight cancer. I watched a friend of mine also from high school (also from facebook's vantage point) who lost her beloved daughter and she.kept.getting.up. These women filled me with wonder at their strength. They inspired me to be more --not only to my own children but to each of the kids who walk through my door...budget cuts be damned ...I try to find time to make personal connections with all who cross my path--I just don't always get to grading every piece of writing that crosses my desk anymore. I don't know who needs me to be.in.the.moment.and.listen, they might not know. But I will be there.
What if we all said, "(whatever is trying to control us), be damned!" And we did more. Hugged...more. Paid attention...more. Donated time and money...more. Laughed...more. 'Liked'...more.
I gave Kath a bow off one of the presents so she could decorate and play with it. She told me to bend down then she put it on my shirt and said, "YOU are MY present!" She made me feel like I too could.get.back.up. What if we treated everyone like they were our presents? Even those we disagree with. What if we did that, "Crazy world, be damned!"