I did it. It’s past 12:00 and my eyes are straining to focus, but I did it. I cleaned out my inbox of over 2,000 old e-mails. There are four left: the teacher workday schedule for the next few days, two e-mails I need to return but am not ready to compose, and a “don’t forget to look into this cool opportunity” reminder. Phew.
I’m excited to say that this purging of stuff hasn’t been limited to my inbox. I’ve spent the last three days at school working on clearing out space in my classroom. My filing cabinet, closet, bookshelves, and cabinet all now have that fresh, organized look that I seem capable of only maintaining for a few weeks at best. I still have my desk, sink cabinet, and a few (huge) boxes of papers to go, but the hard work has already been done. I…no….we got this. Being ruled by peace over here.
I have many things to say tonight about organization and creativity and friends and writing and my little family and, and, and. But it’s late, and everything’s a bit fuzzy, so I’m just not sure I can articulate anything more than this….
I was struck as I read the subject and first line of each e-mail tonight how memories almost forgotten flooded back to me:
A hurricane. A school shooting. The death of a dear friend. Congratulations for a contest won. Struggles with students that ended with thankful e-mails from parents. Room moms from heaven. A huge project with an old friend. The green light to try a new and crazy strategy. I need a sub…my kid is sick again. I am one of the only five people that hasn’t turned something in…again. And meeting after meeting after meeting.
So what did I learn from those memories? I’ve sat here waiting for the last five sleepy minutes or so just trying to figure that out. I think maybe I’ve got it.
When I was a kid, or maybe a teenager, and I would get overly stressed out about some assignment, my mom would always ask me something like, “In five years, will this matter? If the answer is no, then don’t worry about it. Get it done, but don’t obsess over it.”
As I recalled many of those memories, I felt again the panic that was such a part of the moment. Unnecessary panic, I see now, because even just six months later, that thing, whatever it was, already doesn’t matter.
I’ve said it already, but I’m just going to keep speaking it and writing it and praying it. This year will be different. This year I plan to trade the panic for a focus on the things above. A view of the stuff that will matter in six months. In five years.
Did my students see a peaceful, Christ-like attitude?
Did my students hear me apologize when it wasn’t so Christ-like?
Did they know that I believe they are capable and important and unique?
Did they come away loving learning and with more questions than they had when they arrived?
These last three days I’ve thrown out over 2,000 e-mails, 5 trashcans full of junk, 4 crates of paper to recycle, and a whole counter full of teacher stuff in my, “Free, Take Me,” pile. You know teachers just pass around each other’s junk, right? It takes a long time for stuff to actually make it to the dumpster!
But I have some more to throw away, I realize. And no, I don’t mean recycle or the Take Me table…because you don’t need it either!
So tonight I continue to purge:
Worry. Panic. Frenzy. Impatience. Disorder. Insecurity. Anger. Hurry.
More room for peace that way.