I am not sure how many others have the rushing feeling that I get during a work week but it can be painful and daunting without an outlet. To-do lists and tasks spin around, constantly whipping and whooshing past my eyes and fogging my focus. It’s not dramatic, I promise this is actually going on, ALWAYS. If you’ve ever talked to me in person and seen a glazed over look, I’m probably calculating how much is left on my vehicle loan, planning when I can see that friend I bailed on last week, or deciding what to get at the grocery store. You and I may have that in common, maybe not. Regardless, today’s post involves an example of what happens when we stop to look at one of this single tasks for what it is and appreciate our lives and the vital role we can play for others lives as well.
My career switch to Educational Technology is an exciting move for me. But let me tell you what this summer looks like for someone working at a school in technology, just to illustrate my real message. I have been sitting in a room removing labels, cleaning cases, typing labels, and sticking labels on 1,500 iPads for over a week. Now before I sound whiny, I’m not, really. The point is that you have to get what brought my brain to the place I am about to tell you. The school I am working at has many foreign students boarding with names I have never seen, so each time I put their name on an iPad I have to stare at it to check if it’s right. I even get a mild dose of anxiety when considering whether or not their school year would start of sourly based on a misplaced “L” or “T” because I really do believe that these devices help kids and make an impact.
So as I am staring at names, like Jack Hanscom or Susan Cho, I always start to wonder. What are they like? What’s their favorite subject? My brain begins to align them with students from the past that I have had with similar names in English classes at my old school. Are they related? Do they play an instrument, a sport? The wheels turn, the water whooshes. I wish them a good school year. I stick the sticker, apply the case, and pile them up, and in my heart of hearts, I pray for their year and their life. Now maybe I’m crazy, but that was already debatable before this post, or maybe I’m normal. So, THAT – the idea that this type of thing is normal struck a chord with me the second I really took a moment to think about it.
Do students realize there is some woman sitting in a room over their summer break, applying their stickers with love and hope and faith in their existence? Most definitely not! I have met many students, and this would not occur to any of them. They get handed an iPad, they see their name, and it never registers that someone stuck it there. Before I sound like I am resentful, I’m not because that would be RIDICULOUS to expect people to just realize this. How many times in my life have I overlooked the tiniest detail that had taken someone so long to invest in all for my use? My benefit. My world. My future. I bet I had done it hundreds of times. I bet I was doing it right then.
This morning I got up poured coffee from the coffee pot that someone had to have made, actually many people had to have made, into a cup of the same circumstance. I put on the sandals my mom spent her own money to buy me and got into my car (we don’t need to do a full manufactured search to decide hundreds of hands made my car). I ordered a sandwich at lunch that took the person at the register 10 minutes of their day to create, and I walked around a construction site that was being worked on to fix and make safer roads for myself and my coworkers, and I really just could go on and on.
Laugh at me if you will. Really you wouldn’t be the first.
Now, are these people praying or wishing over every sandwich, pothole, coffee maker, jeep? How do you know smartypants? Would you have ever guessed sticker lady in tech-room 205 was sending positive thoughts your kids way over their school iPad? Exactly.
Now if you’re deep-ish like me, these things may only sometimes occur to you when you exist in your favorite hobbies and places. Maybe you’re a collector of something, and you admire the variables, structures, and changes that others have created in your favorite baseball cards, fishing lures, or spoons. Maybe you are hushed and awed by a boat that was touched and built only by one man that is worth lots of money, or a ship in a bottle someone spent time on. You see the magic in the touch of strangers in these moments.
If you and I are kin, you pick up a book, dust off the pages and open up someone else’s heart and soul and mind. You realize in that moment what it means, the work, the time, the hopes for it. You hear a piece of music and think wow, instrumentalists, editors, singers, producers, and more all sat in a room and let their passions connect and create this little thing that I get to listen to in exactly two-minutes-and-twenty-seven-seconds any time I want, and that’s a beautiful gift. Some of us realize those gifts. But do we realize the little gifts that we get every day?
So now, Friend, this is how I want, and I hope, that we can all look at our interactions, our little things, our daily gifts. If you think I’m crazy, or eccentric, I’ll add you to the list. If you connected with this, my heart is full. If you realize I took time out of my afternoon, and wrote these words, hoping someone would click, click, and read then you my friend, now know a piece of my soul and you understand why I pray over iPads. Why we should all stop and realize the hands that have touched our lives even in the loneliest of moments and the scariest of times.
Go out tomorrow or tonight and order a coffee from someone and hope they’ve wished you well over it. If they haven’t, wish them well, and hope they read this or realize this truth eventually. Every little wish and prayer matters. Every sandwich, coffee pot, and sticker. I choose to believe that everything I interact with I move in one direction or another, and I hope it’s positive, and I hope it’s true. So today, to quiet the river that whooshes, and to remember that people have moved mountains to provide me with a life, I plan to live it graciously and gratefully. I see a name, I place a sticker, and it’s no small task. It’s not even monotonous. It may not change a life, but it definitely touches one.