Tag Archives: trust

An Open Letter to the Pandemic

Dear Pandemic,

I got it. I cry uncle. You win. Whatever it takes for you to leave, I’m ready to do.

I’m not sure you understand the destruction you have caused. You have killed us, divided us, and have brought us to the verge of total chaos. You win. I’m done.

I don’t know why you appeared. Was it to teach us a lesson about the butterfly effect? I already blogged about that in 2012 (“The Butterfly Effect”) in a more positive light.

Maybe you just wanted to stir things up. To teach us a lesson. The lesson I gained was that we need each other more than we will admit. You took everything that brings us together away, concerts, sporting events, weddings, birthday parties, and even simply eating out. At the moment we as a nation may be the most divided we have ever been. There are so many lines drawn in our culture. If you wanted to see us fall, I fear you might achieve that.

Why? Why are you here?

I will admit that personally, you have forced me to reevaluate some things. There have been some positive effects from you being here. I wrote a book, April 2020. The whole family plays tennis now.  We have some new recipes for dinner (also a few that we won’t make again). I do appreciate the time and the people in my life.  But the negative outweigh the positive.

There is an underlying current of fear and anger that perpetuates our everyday existence. There is a sense of mistrust of everyone. That connection of energy from a smile or laugh is gone. Not knowing if someone is positive with COVID weighs down every interaction. The list goes on for us as a country and my personally. You have had an effect on every single person in this world.

Is that the lesson? By taking away our connections, even the simplest gestures of a smile, you are showing us that we are all connected?

If so, this is the toughest lesson I have ever had to learn… I hope we all pass this test, together.

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I used to

I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for the day. One cup of coffee, yogurt, and a banana. I would get back into bed (on my wife’s side) for a few minutes as my wife would finish getting ready for the day. I would shower while she ate breakfast.

But now, we get up at random times.

 

I used to teach in front of students. I could tell who was having a bad day. I could tell if my hyper class would have to be reined in because the lesson needed focus from them. My day was a roller coaster of grading, answering emails, and teaching.

But now, I answer emails and grade assignments as they are completed online.

 

I used to believe that I would live forever. That I had time to do everything I wanted with my life. Life was an open highway.

But now, well actually, I’ve realized that my days are numbered for some time now. This moment in time dealing with the COVID-19 situation has reinforced the reality that life is fleeting. As a society we are forced to deal with so many factors we take for granted in our everyday life. A handshake, eating out, graduations, and just the joy of an open highway.

 

I used to distrust people. OK, to be honest I still do, but that is a personal journey.

But now, I wonder what the effects of this pandemic will have on our culture. We were already dealing with anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. Dealing with screen time and its connections to these emotions.

 

I used to go to church with my family, shake hands with others during The Liturgy of the Eucharist (Peace Be With You).

But now, we watch Mass on TV. Hearing the echoes of the few people in attendance during the filming of the service.

 

I used to make one box of blueberry muffins. When the boys were young, 12 muffins were enough for the family.

But now, we have added scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage, and we will have to start making 24 muffins as my oldest son has moved back home to finish his semester of college online.

 

I used to believe in love…

But now, I still do… There is no greater force in this life than Love. Oh, I know hate and other negative forces seem to gain more attention and seem to be more powerful. That the world is falling apart… but Love is what will rebuild the world.

 

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A Little Faith

This idea has been fostering in my head and heart for a while. And I am not sure if I have a clear path to develop it for you, but I will try. Like so many times before, different situations have presented themselves over the last couple of months and I will try to connect those dots to expand on the idea of FAITH.

 

I am not going to talk about a religious based faith, but the faith we have in people. Some readers might use the word TRUST but I will go to a deeper level.

 

In our relationships trust is the noun, faith is the verb.

 

On that note, let me share the life events briefly, and then I will connect them all together:

A workshop on equality in the classroom

Dr. Phil

Being a dad

Job Transition

An interesting mix, I know. There have been other smaller moments, but these four have presented serious examples for me considering the idea of Faith.

Workshop

A big moment in the workshop was the section for evaluation of our assumptions. We were presented with an arrangement of situations / questions like, “I assume a good student has a good reason to miss class, while a bad student does not.” Another example, “I treat all Christians the same.” The base goal of the workshop was to challenge our assumptions so that we create a classroom that allows all our students to feel welcomed in. This generated some hard discussions on how we handled situations. And not just for the classroom. People let us down. Students let us down. But do they let us down because we already expect them to? I’ll come back to this…

Dr. Phil and Fatherhood

Just so you know, yes, I watch Dr. Phil. Part of the reason is because he comes up with some direct statements / questions that hit straight to the issue. I will not go in depth about the episode but concentrate on a single question Dr. Phil asked. The episode was about parents who did not like the man their daughter married. Dr. Phil asked the parents, “So, you don’t have faith in how you raised your daughter?”

I have discussed this idea before in an earlier post (Trust Your Foundation), but the emphasis on the idea of faith in Dr. Phil’s question resonated this time. In my own parenting life I am at that junction that I have to have faith in my kids. Both of my boys are now teenagers. They are spending more time with friends, becoming involved in activities, and simply becoming men. Do I have faith in my parenting?

Job Transition

This last example has two components. Yes, at the time of posting this I will not have a job in education for the next school year, but that is a different issue. During one of my interviews I was asked what I expect behavior wise from my students, this was before the workshop (but I love how life will highlight a theme for us). I simply answered that I expect them to be people. I expanded on the idea that we are all works in progress but that I do my best to respect them as individuals and trust they will do their best. I acknowledge that sometimes students let us down, but you keep working toward being the best you can possibly be. Simple put, I try to have faith in my students. I’ll come back to this…

The second component of this example is the feelings I’ve been experiencing through this time of my life. It is normal to wonder what you did wrong or what you said that could change an interview in your favor. You start to think about past jobs and interviews just to compare and contrast the situations. Which brings me to the point of sharing this, I know how empowering it is when someone has faith in you. The late Mr. Monter had faith in me and he expressed that from the interview on. I contacted Mr. Monter on the last day that the English position at Centura was open. He could have said that the position was filled or that they had already finished inteviews, but he didn’t. He asked if I could have my application to him that day. I said yes and got an interview the next week. I thought the interview went well but was not holding my breath because I understood the situation. As I drove home I told myself that Mr. Monter had already decided on a candidate. I was right, but Mr. Monter called me on my way home to offer me the job. He was going to offer the position to someone else he told me. But he said something told him that I was the right person. Through the years working with Mr. Monter he expressed that same level of faith in me and my colleagues. That made us want to be the best teachers we could.

The Connection

In our relationships trust is the noun, but faith is the verb. When someone expresses their faith in us we rise to the occasion. Yes, I have let people down. Yes, people, students, have let me down. And it hurts when that happens, so we stop doing it. But when we stop having faith in people we start to assume, we start to build relationships on easy to fill boxes. We are all works in progress, but that progress is dependent on someone having a little faith in us. Thank you to everyone who has had faith in me.

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