Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waving, Not Drowning

Tonight I'm feeling really restless. I'm full of nervous energy--probably because for the past 3 hours I have been sitting in the same position, watching TV. All this staring has numbed my mind and now I'm left with empty ennui. But then, I shouldn't really be bored, because I have soooo much homework due over the weekend. Oh wow, I really do have a lot to study for tomorrow. Uh oh.

Academic walls are closing in around me, constricting me like the anaconda in my student's picture book. Is this the part of the semester when people start giving up the struggle to keep their heads above water? Because that's what I feel like doing.

Like the drowned man in Stevie Smith's poem called Not Waving but Drowning, who was not rescued in time by his so-called friends because he "always loved larking". The dead man argued, "I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning."

When I first read this poem, it really hit me hard that there are people out there that are struggling within themselves, and I might never know about it. Especially those at my age who are under all kinds of pressure, but keep it all inside until it is too late.
Sometimes I wish we all wore signs above our heads, like little Facebook statuses, that would show others when we needed help or were available to offer help. At some point every day I feel like I'm waving and drowning.

All this talk of drowning reminds me of a part of the devotional* I read to my co-workers today:

"When a lifeguard is trying to save you, it's a mistake to try and assist him... When you're flailing around in deep water you tire easily and sink faster; you also drag others down with you. that's why a lifeguard will tell you to stop struggling and trust him. Understand this: God doesn't need your help to save you!"

At this point, the devotional is starting to seep into my mind. A lot of days I feel like I'm running in place like a Looney Tunes character, or trying to bail out a sinking ship with a teaspoon.

I make more trouble for myself by rushing around, getting lost in all the busyness of the day. I need to slow down and stop trying to control everything. Once I stop struggling all alone, I know that God will save me from myself. Speaking of that...if the drowning person (aka me) had listened to the Lifeguard in the first place, and not surfed the web--I mean--waves when it was obviously not good for her, she might not have wound up floundering in the first place.

*The devotional was from a little daily inspirational book by my church. Big thanks to whoever writes those devotionals--I really appreciate them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Human Touch

Annie (all names have been changed to protect the innocent) surprised me with two hugs today. Normally, she doesn't talk to me at all. Just like her brother. There were times Alex would just ignore me. A little while ago he started making an effort to greet me with a hug every day. After the hug, I ask him how he's doing. Yesterday he shocked me with, "My parents are breaking up."

He said "breaking up". Alex is a third-grader. He and his girlfriends have gotten together and broken up many times before. Maybe children think marriage is as simple as going out.

"Your shoe's untied, Ms. Jennifer!" Oh no, I had already been April-fooled too many times today. "My shoes are not untied!" I replied. Another student sneakily untied my shoelaces when he thought I wasn't looking. I ignored this little stunt, but Alex didn't. He bent down and tied my shoe for me, taking great care to double-tie it.

At dinnertime, I held Papa's hand and hung on to my brother's, while I listened to my Grandma bless the food. My eyes were closed, but I still knew my family was there. I felt them. Sometimes a human connection is all we need to make the world a little more bearable.