Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Use a Reprieve

Maybe you got a snow day. I didn't. I got a "no electricity in the building" day.

When I woke up today, I didn't feel well. In fact, I asked my husband if he was willing to substitute teach for me today if I didn't feel better soon. But I did feel better quite soon and realized I had some work to do on lesson plans before setting off to the homeschool coop where I teach a writing class and a science class. But first I checked my email, and what do you know! Classes were cancelled due to power failure. Now what to do next? I realized I had several options.

1. I could decide I really didn't feel as good as I thought and go back to bed to read a book I am enjoying for the rest of the day. This is called PRETENDING TO BE SICK IN ORDER TO BE LAZY.

2. I could blow off the day surfing the internet. This is called WASTING AN OPPORTUNITY.

3. I could get ahead of the game and do some lesson planning, get caught up on correcting homework, and prepare to re-do the syllabi for those two classes (for the third time). This is called WORKING LIKE USUAL.

4. I could get another non-teaching project done. There's always a closet to organize or a room to clean from top to bottom. This is called BEING PRODUCTIVE.

5. I could get out a fun project, like that quilt I started and which has been languishing in my sewing closet, and enjoy that. This is called BEING CREATIVE.

The good choices are obvious. The bad ones equally so. But sometimes the bad ones are a needed down time. The hard part is deciding how much that needed down time really is. In my case, it would be hard to justify. So here is what I am going to do: some of each, starting with number 3 and going down the list, then starting at the top. I believe my day will be well spent even if I don't get to the last priority on my list. Pat myself on the back and chalk one up for good decision-making. Now to get off this blog and start my reprieve for real...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I Won't Repost

You know what I'm talking about--those posts that go something like this: If you really cared, and I know most of you don't, you will repost this message....

I see those things and my automatic response is, "Whatever you do, don't repost that message." Why? Here are a few reasons.

1. It's emotional blackmail. "If you don't repost this, the whole world will know what an uncaring, selfish creep you are."

2. It's self-righteous. "I posted. I thank you, God, that I am not like all those other sinners..."

3. It's negative. There is a need out there, or information to be passed on. The first part of the message is usually positive. But then the positive message gets put in a self-destructive vehicle to carry it.

4. It's deceptive. It actually makes the post-er think they have done something caring, when in fact very little that is useful has been accomplished. If anything, they have spread ill will with the negativity more than any positive effect of passing along the message.

5. It creates passivity. This is closely linked to the deceptiveness. "All I need to do is repost this, then I have done what is necessary."

Now here's a suggestion. Every time you see one of those obnoxious posts, decide to do something positive instead. It hardly matters what. A prayer. A handwritten note. A kind word. A thoughtful deed. We need a lot more of those responses than we need people on a list. And that is why I won't repost.

End of rant.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

No Return

There is a certain unreality to traveling, especially when going to an unfamiliar destination. You  may be packed, have your ticket in hand, your passport ready with visas, and yet still not have grasped that you are going somewhere and won't be home until the adventure is over. That is my state at this moment. Russia looms before me like a tentative dream waiting to be grasped. I've been reading up, thinking through the details, washing and packing clothes, and yet still can't quite envision that I will not be sleeping in my own bed tonight. It is a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

Don't get me wrong. I love traveling to new places. The adventure is stimulating and the busyness of getting ready fuels my longing for exploring. I have a list of places I have not been to yet--may I never complete that list! May it continue to grow as my horizons expand. But I do love the comfort of my own bed and familiar routines. I do enjoy my own back yard and the people who live near me. I do like to know that things I enjoy are at hand, and if I never traveled again, there would be plenty to keep me happily occupied.

I also know that while traveling is exciting and stimulating, it does not satisfy my deepest longings. I can see that journeys need destinations and most journeys end back where you started. You have been changed by the travel, but in a certain sense you are little closer to your goal than before you left.

Today, Epiphany, I am reminded of the three wise men, who traveled to Bethlehem. They came to worship and adore the newborn leader. They came from afar and returned to their distant homes. Their travels came to an end, but their journey through history continued. I suspect that their deepest longings were not satisfied by seeing this child, but only increased their desire to see his kingdom come.

Whether or not we ever leave our own home, we are all on a journey through life, and what we do with the time we are given determines a great deal about the outcome of our life. Like the wise men, we are all called to come. We can try to choose not to, or drag our feet the whole way in a sense of obligation, or we can run with all our might to meet our Maker. One thing is certain, our new home is ahead, and there is no return on this journey.