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Life – Beginnings and Ends

December 10, 2010

Here’s another abstract and pointless rant about nothing…

Life is moving.  One more week until Winter Break.  One more week and I’ll be on a plane to the Philippines to see my dad.  Two weeks there of good food, good beer, and the curiously pleasing sound of a language foreign to me since the age of four.  A few more days of 24 seven year-olds looking up to me for constant approval.  Five more 5:15 bus rides to work.  And about three weeks until oh, what is it, the new year.

That’s as far as I can see right now.  I think I’ve been thinking about the future to much lately.  I’ll stop at just a few weeks from now.  For kids that is such a long time.  Even a few minutes drag on like days for kids.  “How long till recess, Mr. Rongcal?”

“About five minutes.”  And a collective groan from the audience.  As adults, 5 minutes is nothing!  A few weeks is nothing!  That’s why we’re always thinking months and years ahead.  As a teacher, it’s always…when is the next staff meeting?  What math unit will you be on after Spring Break?  Can we get ‘so and so’ to be reading a grade-level by May?  When will you finish your master’s?  Everything is planning for the future, for things that haven’t even happened yet.  While at the same time taking care of the ‘now’.  Everything is supporting – and being supported – by something else.

I asked my friend yesterday if he was excited to go home for the holidays.  He said, “Yeah, I guess.  But the sooner it comes, the sooner it’ll be over.”  And that’s what life is, isn’t it?  A successive stream of beginnings and ends.  The sunrise followed by the sunset.  The arrival of a vacation followed by the departure of one.  The start of a recess followed by the ring of a bell.  The beginning of a year followed by the end of one.

I sometimes associate this ‘beginning and ending’ idea to the notion of losing things.  Just as sure as life is cyclical, the act of losing things is…a fact of life.  The important thing to consider is how you cope with loss.  Young adult author Chris Crutcher said something to the affect that from the time we are babies, we experience loss.  If we don’t learn how to grieve, and grieve well, life will be much harder.  In other words, how do you handle change and loss?  How do you handle beginning another holiday season, followed by ending another long, but fast year?  If you never have to think about these questions, you’re probably doing pretty well.

And I end with a story:

As I was stepping onto the ferry boat in Tanzania, I was surrounded by the usual hub-bub and chatter of a busy commute of local pedestrians.  Y’know, the kinds that carry live chickens in plastic bags, shouting out, jambo and hakuna matata!  But through the sea of people getting on the boat, two men carrying a stretcher were walking off.  The first thing I saw on the stretcher was a human foot – probably the oldest foot I’d ever seen!  A second later I see the face of the person attached to that foot.  Mouth open, eyes closed, skin like a brown crocodile’s.  There was no big scene; there was no ambulance for as much as I could see…just two guys carrying away this dried prune of a body.  One begins…another one ends.

Life is moving…

…better move with it before you’re nothing but an old crocodile foot.

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