Mood swings, irritability, frustration, guilt and self-recrimination. That seems to be my constant lately.
Some days I wonder if it’s worth the effort of maintaining any sense of optimism.
Some days, hope is hard to come by.
And then, something happens that turns things around and lightens the load…
On Mondays, I teach a class of Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders at a small private, Christian school.
I pretty much teach a process over product class and place the emphasis on the “what if” idea. What if you try this…what will happen? I emphasize creative thinking. When the class project is done, the kids get to work (play) in their journals and work with all of the scraps that we have collected in what they have dubbed the “what if” box.
Yesterday, as we were working on a owl drawing and painting project, I shared a story from my own early elementary days.
A long, long time ago when I was about your age, I was working on painting a plaster owl in art class. We didn’t have an art teacher or classroom at the school I was attending at the time. It was my regular classroom teacher and she wasn’t an artist. We had red, yellow and blue paint. I remember that I wanted my owl to look like an owl with lots of colors and texture. I was young and didn’t know how to achieve that so I kept layering on paint…lots and lots of layers. The paint began to muddy and crack. My teacher told me that I was doing it wrong and took my owl and washed all of the paint off. She returned it to me and told me to start over and do it the correct way. I didn’t want to finish the owl because I was afraid that I wouldn’t do it right. It’s important to follow instructions, but it’s also important to try new things and not be afraid to make mistakes because sometimes that’s how we find the answers we are looking for.
After I told the story, my little artists finished up their project for the day and moved on to their journal time.
As they were working, one of the boys in my class who I often suspect doesn’t listen very much because he is always talking, stopped drawing in his journal and said to me…
Miss Kelly, what if God gave you that teacher who messed up your owl so that you would become a “what if-er? What if you were supposed to become a “what if-er so you could help me be one to? ‘Cause I think I’m a what if-er like you are and we’re supposed to figure stuff out. Is that even a word? What if-er? I think it is and I think that’s what we are.
What if I’m supposed to be a what if-er and I have just forgotten what that means?
What if it took a child to point out to me that there is a purpose and a meaning to my life that I have lost touch with?
What if I just keep trying things out and remember that life is a process and not a product? And that I’m going to make mistakes and that’s okay.
What if I quit striving to reach the destination and spend more energy on seeing the joy in the journey?
The destination is a mirage that you never actually arrive at. The journey is the reality and there are magical moments to be found…often when and where you least expect them.
Here’s to what ifs and the what if-ers who explore them…and to the joy to be found in the exploration…
And here’s to the purported wisdom of owls and some art teachers (including myself) and the actual wisdom of small children…
– and to following the instructions (mostly) and then celebrating the beautiful, varied and sometimes messy results of our “what if ” life.