Fatigue & Gratitude

I am tired. I thought spring break would be the magical moment at which I turned the corner. The unexpected death of one of my dear former students just a day into my vacation, however, left me unable to recoup any energy – emotional or physical. Quite frankly, what I’d most like to do right now is crawl into a cavern and wail for a week, at least. But it is March and I haven’t any time for such indulgences.

So how, I’ve asked myself, how am I gonna make it to May when I’ll embark on my summer journey and finally have time to exhale? Gratitude, that’s how. This moment, the one I’m living in right now, the present . . . it’s all I have, but it’s so much more than what others have received. Here’s a list of that for which I am grateful today:

  • Warmer weather. With spring in the air, Alaska is warming up. At -6 degrees Fahrenheit, this morning’s walk to work was beyond pleasurable.
  • We have an artist in residence in our school this week, a storyteller. He is teaching my students to create and perform stories. Today, the shyest student in my class, one who I thought might be a selective mute at the beginning of the school year, stood in front of her classmates and performed with confidence.
  • Grilled cheese. Our delightful cook made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch today. I asked for another one. She obliged.
  • Twelve days ago, one of my former favorite/I don’t have favorites students passed away unexpectedly. I am riding an emotional roller coaster. As we gathered for a school assembly today, I thought, “I hope a child who needs to be snuggled sits down beside me. I could really use a hug right now.” Without making a request, I was flanked by sweet kiddos who weaseled their way right into my arms.
  • Vindication. Teaching is hard work. When someone from the outside notices how tirelessly you are working and acknowledges what you’ve been wondering all along (Is it me or is this particular class especially hard?), it is everything. It confirms your thoughts and feelings, which gives you energy to carry on.

I feel better now, having given thanks. Gratitude may be all I have for a number of days to come. But I am certain that it is more than enough, if only because it shifts my focus from what I don’t have to what I do . . .

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