Monday, May 7, 2012

Number Five

After an unexpected visit from a former student today, I find myself dragging in my motivation to score some papers after school. The brief talk I had with Jess has made me pause in my day, thinking of how the gifts that we teachers sometimes receive unexpectedly--the very return of the "products we help cultivate"--revisit us and restore our energy to continue our walk forward. I am grateful for that. So, beyond my normal struggle with procrastination when it comes to my correcting of lengthy research papers, I am also distracted by thoughts on how, at the end of a teaching year, I am always so moved by written and verbal expressions of affection and appreciation--from students and parents alike. Twenty-one years of teaching has taught me one thing for sure: I may stumble at times but I strive to live fully, purposefully, passionately, playfully, powerfully...each and every day.

Today as I tried to find the exact wording of the famous Henry David Thoreau quote, “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived," I came across this quote on an anonymous blog: “You are, after all, the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”.

I don’t know if that statement has been scientifically proven or refuted, however, I don’t need to know. I believe it’s true. Each day I meet up with an average of 80 people. There are those who walk through my classroom doors and there are those whom I have lunch with. There are those I go home to, and those I see and hear from for just a few minutes as they ring up my groceries or as they comment upon my latest email or “online status update”. I am privy to words and insights from all ages--not only from my teens but from my 12 year old child and my 84 year old father. I hear words of wisdom, hope, faith, and love contrasted with expressions of complaint, cynicism, anger, and entitlement. And thinking back on that serendipitous quote I came across today, I stop and ask myself, “Who am I the average of? My husband? My kids? I do spend a lot of time with the four of them. And who might that fifth person be? Who is my number five?!"

It’s an interesting question. I’m not going to attempt to answer it today. But I have been thinking this afternoon of how hope breeds hope and how cynicism breeds cynicism. I am touched that Jess came by today, that she told me how she reads my daily FB status updates nowadays and how she misses me and “just wanted to come by to see (me) and to talk”. Maybe Jess is my number five today. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little extra sweetness and tenderness as I end my work day. And maybe this is why I will continue to put my everything into the work I do as a wife, mother, daughter, sibling, friend, and teacher. Because if I am someone’s number five--today, tomorrow, or maybe everyday, I want the average of the person he/she is to be positively influenced by who I am.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, Anne. I just finished reading Heading West by Doris Betts. The story is about a woman kidnapped in Tennessee and driven across the country to Arizona. It's a surprising story, and near the end, I understood what the book is really about: It's about life and whether you decide how you'll live it or everybody else decides how you'll live it. It sounds like you're deciding how you'll live it.