(F.Y.I. Most of my post titles WILL be taken from Johnny Mathis tunes, as he is, to me, an important figurehead in the Christmas music spectrum.)
The project is fully underway! Day #2 (featuring the creation of this blog and my debut as an official blogger) found me mostly hunched over my computer, attempting to familiarize myself with the WordPress.com “Dashboard,” which serves as a “control panel” of sorts. It allows you to modify and add to your blog. I was tickled pink when I learned I could use a Christmas theme as my background. (Yes…I am the kind of person that is easily entertained…even mundane activities such as watching paint dry elicit laughter from myself).
Entering school yesterday with this idea in my mind kept me pretty busy throughout the morning and early afternoon. I honestly spent a good 4 hours simply working on the creation of this blog, and another 2 writing the first post. Fatigue naturally set in, of course, with all the typing, squinting at the computer screen, and the extended amount of time sitting on my bum. Then, I had to attend a student teaching seminar, run home and walk my dog, and then head back to school for an evening jazz concert.
The funny thing about attempting to “do good” for others??? You start to run out of time! You get so focused in on your daily activities/needs/wants/worries/schedule/cute man crossing the street that giving time to others just “had to be put off until tomorrow.”
“It wasn’t my fault…I didn’t have any time today.” And therein lies the problem. We become so preoccupied with trivial matters that typically cause unnecessary worry and anxiety in our own lives….oddly enough, the usual remedy for this tension can be created by purposefully putting others before ourselves. When we’re thinking primarily about others, we don’t have time to think if that blue dress makes me look fat…if we should lay off the chicken wings…if the “It’s Complicated” status will ever change on our Facebook pages…if Bristol Palin will ever be voted off Dancing with the Stars…we simply can’t fall back on our own fears to occupy our time. We are forced to put our mental thought processes on someone or something else.
Try it. In the next 5 minutes, no matter where you are, purposefully attempt to think about someone else…think about helping someone else, or at least what you could do to brighten someone else’s day. Try not to dwell on your relationship with this person…instead, focus solely on their life: who they are, what is happening in their life currently, their needs/wants/desires. Even if they’re not in close proximity to you, spend 5 minutes selflessly focusing on the life of another person and come back to me when you’re done.
I’ll wait…I’ll grab a McDonald’s Caramel Frappe in the the meantime…
Still waiting…this drink must have 500+ calories in it…
So? What did you find? Were you able to keep all thoughts of your own life out of the way? I’m willing to be that 90% of us would answer “no.” It’s hard to keep that personal “committee” from commenting on our mental activity. We all know the “committee” I speak of: I’ve gotta do the laundry when I get home, I’ll never find a job, why did I wear these shoes?, I’ve gotta cut out carbs, my hairstyle is so 80’s, I’m not good enough, etc, etc, etc, et cetera… It is quite impossible to turn this committee off…but we can try to silence them more often.
By the time I realized I was running out of time to complete my task on Tuesday, it was 6:00 PM, which found me running out the door, late, to a rehearsal for a jazz concert. Crap. Running out of time, and running solely on a microwaved piece of Domino’s pizza.
I needed a caffeine boost to get me through the evening, but I was running a solid 5 minutes behind schedule. Do I stop, attain liquid energy, and show up 10 minutes late? Or do I arrive slightly behind with exhaustion knocking at my door?
Do I stop for coffee, AND pick up coffee for my supervisor? I know he likes coffee. He arrives every morning, Styrofoam cup in hand, and caffeinates himself regularly with Diet Coke throughout the day (I’m not kidding…at least 4 cans a day). But, how does he take his coffee? Black? Cream? Cream AND sugar? Just sugar??? Oh, the choices! Would he even want coffee now? What if he just had a huge steak dinner and doesn’t need anything to drink? What if coffee makes him nervous before a concert, and he speeds up the tempos, and causes all the students to have a nervous breakdown?!?
Don’t worry about the details, I told myself. You’re attempting to do something nice for someone other than yourself. It’s about the gesture, not about the perfection of the action.
Armed with one black coffee in one hand, and one caramel cappuccino in the other (my medication), I arrived, 10 minutes late, to a rehearsal that hadn’t even begun yet (thanks to the underdeveloped punctuality of high school students). My supervisor rushed in, a bit flustered by the events of the evening, and was attempting to locate a tardy student (who would end up being 1 hour late).
The funny thing is: how do you just hand someone a cup of coffee whom you’ve never given one to before? “I don’t know if you’ll like this…heck, I don’t even know if it’s really coffee you drink in the morning…I’m not trying to suck up, nor win points…I thought you would like some caffeine to get you through the night, and I really hope you didn’t just drink an entire pot at home and now hate the thought of drinking more, or have decided to go on a coffee fast because you just read about the negative effects coffee can have on the body…and I’m not trying to say that you look like you need coffee, or that you’re looking tired, exhausted, or sleep-deprived…so, here’s a cup of joe, to you, from me…please don’t hate it…or me…thanks.”
(I have a bit of an OCD when it comes to playing out scenarios in my head…)
Instead of spewing the previous rant onto my unassuming supervisor, I merely extended my hand, leaned towards him, and said, in tones inaudible to ants:
“I got you coffee.”
He didn’t even hear me. So again, with a bit more bravado, I timidly informed him I had brought him coffee, and, would you believe it, he genuinely seemed surprised! But, good surprised, or bad surprised?!? I had to check. I told him that I had chosen to make his coffee black, a guess which I hoped would be correct. Although he alluded to the fact that no, he probably put cream and/or sugar into his morning cup of java, he did seem pleased to have a free cup of hot coffee in his hands. I even got the impression that he might not be used to people handing him unexpected gifts of caffeine….not to mention, at that point, I don’t even think he knew I was a good 10 minutes late…
So, Math Wizards, what have we learned so far?
Coffee + Stressed Supervisor = Smile
I did NOT try to solve this equation:
Coffee = Stressed Supervisor – Repercussions for arriving late
My tasks are NOT meant to take away negative repercussions from anything in my life. I will totally own up to being late. I don’t even think my supervisor cared if I was late, nor was aware what time I arrived. However, I dislike yelling. A lot. I am like a turtle. If you yell at me, I inwardly close down and pull my head into my shell (or hooded sweatshirt). So, I will attempt to avoid any and all confrontational experiences if I can. And if “doing good” can keep the peace, sign me up.
A small attempt to brighten someone’s night resulted in a simple smile and a genuine thank you. For about an hour of my evening last night, I wasn’t thinking about my upcoming Praxis exams, or due dates for my student teaching portfolio, or memorizing my script for a show I’m involved in…my thoughts were totally on this RAC and the results were humbly positive.
RAC #3: Bringing someone coffee unexpectedly Result: Smile, a “thank you”, warm feelings