It’s life’s little moments

Published 6:57 pm Friday, February 8, 2019


Coffee with Mimi

Life is full of big events.  There are weddings, births, new homes, new jobs, vacations and deaths.  Those days are marked indelibly in the calendars and memories of our lives.  We don’t just remember the date, but the circumstances surrounding the day.  We remember in vivid detail the weather, those who were present, items of clothing or perhaps the food. 

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Not every significant event belongs to us personally.  We can recall precisely where we were the moment we learned Kennedy was shot, each of them.  We remember, it was almost in slow motion, September 11, 2001.  Those huge, historic events remain alive in our memories because they were shared by so many in the world.  The significance of the events would keep us glued to the TV as the stories continued to unfold for the world to see. 

But, it is really the infinite number of little moments which often shape who and what we are, our view of the world and our own purpose.  It is likely the exact details of these moments will be long lost in our consciousness.  The exact day, the year, perhaps even who was with us become unimportant while the lesson learned is added to our perspective. 

I worked in education, at one level or another for 35 years.  I was a teacher, an administrator, a coach and an activity sponsor.  I’m sure if I had not ended up being a teacher; I would not think the way I do today. Truly, there is no more profound way to experience life than to spend time with children.  A child packs around in his or her brain a conglomeration of what lives in his or her world.  Each bit they carry is not always what we know, or how it will affect the life of the child. 

I was educated by those 35 years in education and continue to be each day through interactions in my current job.  Just this week while the world and political events swirled around us and dominated — perhaps too much of our thoughts and conversations — I was reminded that life’s essential questions are asked and experienced in brief unexpected moments.  Some of those moments may be planned by the powers that be, and the results are actually what were intended at the outset of the plan.

Often though, we don’t get the results the plan was meant to achieve.  It may be too soon for the concept.  The concept could be too complicated or there was too much clutter in the atmosphere of the kid’s world.  Or, it could be just a bad day all around.

But, if you keep an open mind, you may get way more than you bargained for and you have a new thing to think about.

As a teacher, I had several specific time sensitive lessons I taught each year.  Or rather, in this case, presented, every student was offered the experience and given the same assignment.  This particular year in question was about 5 years ago and the student who touched me was new to my class.  I hadn’t had the chance to learn much about her. 

The lesson was the State of the Union Address.  I always made a big deal about how the three branches of government are all present in one room, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were all decked out, the First Lady would have special guests whose presence would give hints about policy points in the speech, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House would be seated in particular places behind the podium. 

We drew a diagram of the House Chamber with all the characters in place.

At the appointed hour of 9:00 p.m. eastern, all major news and cable networks would switch to a camera shot of the chamber. The doors at the rear of the center aisle would be opened and the Sergeant at Arms would march down the aisle, stop about a third of the way down and announce, “Mister Speaker, (this was 5 years ago), the President of the United States.”   He then steps aside and the President enters the Chamber. 

All the students were asked to do was watch the first few minutes of the coverage to see the spectacle.  See all the elements and check out the scene.  Eyes usually rolled at the idea.  Many potential reasons for noncompliance were offered.

I was not deterred, just a few minutes, if possible.

The next morning, this fairly unknown new student excitedly showed me pages and pages of notes outlining the speech in its entirety from start to finish.  She and her mother, who she shared with me had never finished school and had never watched the event or anything about the government, watched the entire speech, talk about it.  Her mother cried.

That student transferred away due to family situations and was not around for the next State of the Union.  I will never forget the lesson she taught me.  It was a beginning for her and her mother.  It just takes a little moment on which a future might be built.  Not the lesson I had planned, but I’ll take it.