As I sit like the two-faced Greek god Janus looking forward and backwards at the same time, the magic of the dawn of a new year isn’t lost on me. While you could say that the changing from 11:59 pm to 12:00 am is just the passing of another 60 seconds, it also represents the miracle of a new beginning. The chance to change. It marks a time for reflection. (Teachers are doubly blessed in this respect. We can reflect and renew when school starts and then again at the dawn of the new calendar year.)
As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the year to come, I am drawn to the word “be” to drive my future. It’s such a humble word, saying what it needs to say in only 2 letters, yet those two letters hold the key to actually living life.
In today’s fast-paced world, it is tempting to live the life of a multi-tasker. We all know what it’s like to attempt several things at once. It becomes difficult to sit down and engage with one person without constantly checking the social media stream or having the television on in the background.
The same thing happens in the classroom. In a well-meaning way, we don’t give Johnny the direct attention he craves as he tells about his latest adventure because we’re constantly scanning the classroom for behaviors we need to correct. Two years ago when I surveyed my students, they pointed out this behavior. They reminded me that they wanted (and expected) my attention when they were speaking to me. They wanted my undivided attention.
That’s where my word for this year comes in. I want to “be” fully immersed in the moment–whatever the moment is. If I’m engrossed in a conversation with a student, then that’s where I’m going to “be.” If I’m standing in line with a buddy for a roller coaster then I’m going to be in that moment. If I’m dining with friends, then I’m going to be in that moment. It will be hard, at first, not to reach for the phone and the social media experience. It will be hard to focus on one student when there’s a whole class working. It may feel awkward when a conversation lags at dinner (a place where I could take a peek at my phone). But I am resolved to live every moment of this year.
This year will never come again. I may teach the same content next year, but the moments of this year will never be repeated. The students will be different. Even if I move to 8th grade and have the same students next year, they won’t be the same. They’ll be a year older and a year wiser. The same is true of my family members, the students I work with at church, and the kids I mentor. That’s why I must “be” present always this year.
An old proverb says, “Time and tide wait for no man.” This year, this man is going to enjoy the time and the tide and just “be.”