Friday, January 27, 2012

You'll do things for me that you hate

I had a blog basically written and saved, but I deleted it in favor of a more pressing post that's been on my mind.  I feel like the time since I came back to school from Christmas break has been a type of controlled chaos that I have only controlled on occasion.  I initially found that things were unexpectedly hectic for me at work.  However, I quickly came to the realization that it shouldn't have been unexpected.  "Benchmark" could be heard buzzing in the brains and mouths of students, teachers, and administrators.  As unassuming and typically gloomy as the month of January has always seemed to me, a new day has dawned in my "teacher life."  January is now synonymous with "get down to business and teach those kids something they'll remember on a standardized test" time.

My personal life has also been unexpectedly chaotic  in the post-Christmas season.  I make it a rule of thumb not to discuss the intimate details of my personal, family, and social life in this blog.  I am a private person for the most part, and my life isn't terribly interesting anyway.  However, it seems to be one thing after another this month.  I love my real family, my "friend family," and my work family, and I'm thankful for all my families everyday.  I think we all have a divine or at least fate-driven purpose for being in the right place at the right time with the right people at any given time in our lives.  I know that I have learned, and continue to learn, that I am perfect for my purpose.  Although, I confess, I am not always sure what that purpose is.

Anyway, amidst all of this stuff, and the exhaustion that has inevitably come from it, I started reading a new book.  I find that the two best mind-clearers for me these days are books and running.  Books take you out of your world and into someone else's, and running literally allows you to run away, even if it's only for thirty minutes.  I've been running a lot lately, but I also started a book by one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer.  I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close around this time last year and fell in love with the beautiful sadness that Foer conveys in his writing.  That sounds weird I think, but I'm saying it anyway because it's true.  He creates these perfectly painted images with his words that are heartbreakingly gorgeous and strangely relatable.  I just started reading Everything is Illuminated,  and I found the same perfect honesty that I did in his other book.  There's one quote that especially struck me the other day:

"One day you will do things for me that you hate.  That is what it means to be family."

Now, I'm aware that this sounds harsh, but if you're really honest with yourself you know this is true of all of us.  We do things we hate for people we value, whether it's our real family, our "friend family," or our work family.  For example, I will teach test-taking strategies and open responses and writing prompt responses for my work family until I want to die from it, because I love my students and value the people I work with.  I once tried to watch a scary movie with my boyfriend, because he loves them.  I only made it through five minutes, but I attempted to do something I hated for someone I love....I'm still working on it.

This quote is particularly true for your real family.  When you're young, your parents make sacrifices for you because they love you.  When you're old, you will make sacrifices for your parents because you love them. This love manifests itself not only in sacrifices, but also in small submissions, like attempting to value your parents' opinion, even when you don't have to agree with it anymore because you're a "grownup;" like speaking up and staying quiet at all the appropriate times; like creating time instead of filling it with other people and things.  These aren't always things we "hate," necessarily, but they can be things we struggle with, both as children and adults.

Essentially, I think the key here, something I've been keenly focused on this week, is the attempt to put others first.  In all my own "chaos," it was easy to forget my purpose or forget other people and turn in on myself and my own wants and needs.  I think the lesson of selflessness is by far the hardest to grasp for most human beings-- it is a constant effort on my part to say the least.  So to close, I hope this week that you do something you hate for someone you love, no matter what family they're a part of.

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