Back to the Beginning: Teaching the Teacher (posted Aug. 18, 2009)

Yesterday I took a box of files outside to enjoy the nice weather while I do something I think I’ve come to realize I really hate…filing. I think I hate it because I toss it all in a box for ‘later’. Not having much of a concept of time, years can go by with my looking at that box (or boxes) with a fearful glance!

I unearthed some things I wish to forget (the terrible outcome from the auto accident lawsuits and that whole mess of paperwork), and then I stumbled upon a Multicultural Education Lesson Plan I completed way back in 1990.

I kept it because I got a great score on it, and the instructor wrote a note at the bottom, “beautiful lesson. May I make a copy to use as sample?”

Teachers, our best underpaid resources in America. I once wanted to teach, I loved it. I did not go into teaching professionally, but would volunteer to get my ‘fill’ at church and volunteer opportunities.

Thumbing through the lesson plan I was stopped in my tracks. The title? “The Elderly: Bridging the Generation Gap.” Ironic or not, my elderly Dad called and let me know he fell again, this time injuring his back.

Talking with him I apologized for not calling as I had gotten into habit of doing because I forgot. My forgetting is really not okay to him or his wife, welcome to the land of double standards.

I forgot, I had migraines and perhaps in all honesty didn’t wish to call. Maybe I was just looking for excuses, the very thing he used to do and drove me crazy.

Seeing as I had written this lesson plan I was now thumbing through, the irony of timing did not escape me, nor did conviction…

You see, my lesson plan has an imagination activity game where students would try to imagine what it’s like to be an elderly person, with these questions:

1. If my body was not functioning the way I wanted it to, I would feel…
2. If nobody from my family ever visited me, I would feel…
3. If people kept telling me I was in my “golden” years, I would feel…
4. If all my friends and my spouse had died, I would feel…
5. If I were really unsure as to where my money would come from, I would feel…
6. If every day I was reminded by my body that I am going to die soon, I would feel…
7. If I started forgetting things so much that I thought I was going crazy, I would feel…
8. If everything around me was changing so fast that I knew I could never keep up, I would feel…
9. If I went into a store, and young kids laughed at me because of my looks, I would feel…
10. If no one ever called me on the phone, I would feel…

Needless to say, with my definite set of limitations these questions can also easily be posed to and felt by me.

Sometimes teachers are easy to teach, sometimes they’re difficult because they/we believe they/we have all the answers. I don’t.

There are times in our lives when we just have to get over ourselves and do the right thing. When I was sixteen my Mom died suddenly, and I learned the hard way to say the things you need to say because there is no guarantee of tomorrow or even the next moment.

And, as I’m learning from Pema Chodron to live mindfully without regrets, courageously and compassionately, I’ve made a note to call my Dad each week. It doesn’t matter we have the same conversation or it’s a surprise for us to actually talk for more than several minutes about only surface issues.

This isn’t about me, it’s about what he needs and I can do this for him. I believe we are to honor our parents to the best of our abilities…that does not eliminate mistakes or abuse. I just have to live with a clear conscience, do the right thing in my heart, and live with as few regrets as possible.

Life is about choices. We can choose, as Pema teaches, to either have things that hurt us shut us down or open up our hearts wider, to deeper compassion, no matter what. I’ll take the latter. The former just hasn’t worked for me.


About Resilient Heart

TBI x3, that's me! If you had a Traumatic Brain Injury (or Injuries!) and knew you might not remember dates, events, people, etc., would you live each day differently? Would you give more, forgive more, heal more? I am. The statistics for me developing Dementia or Alzheimer's is a high possibility - one, because of the TBIs, and two - because I'm genetically predisposed. Come with me as this present moment is all we know we have... Wishing you all the best - today & always. Blessings, Love & Peace, RH
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