Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.
When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.
And for all, I’d know more—the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.
Fortunately, life is full of next times. And for those of us who live with this wisdom know that next times can lead to better times. This is certainly true in teaching, a consistent cycle of endings and beginnings, chances to start anew, chances to make “next” better. And, now, as we come to an ending–semester one is done tomorrow, we stand on the edge of a beginning, a new next time.
Uncertain of whether it’s a chance to escape the mistakes of my past or embrace the opportunities of my future, I reach–often impatiently and prematurely–for new beginnings, seeking the renewal, the hope of a fresh start. But sometimes this urgency gets the better of me, and I race to the end to get to the beginning, and I don’t always appreciate the present. So, this “next time,” I vow to do different.
This next time I will be present in the moment, slowing down for the “now,” trusting that, regardless the pace, the end and the beginning will come. Of course, this is not the first time I have made such a vow, but this time, I hope it happens. And that is why I dusted off the poem above, an old friend and counselor, to remind me of the moments now, the people in my present. Sorry, old friend, it has been a while. But thank you for the reminder. Thank you for the memory of my moments with kids when I have watched “the face, how the mouth has to work, …to see any strain, any sign of what lifted the voice.” Thank you, too, for the reminder of their “glowing lights” as they come and go, in and out my day, brilliant and bright. Thank you.
Indeed, a new next time. A better next time. A time for me to measure the moments, not the days to the next. It will come. And I will be there, richer in spirit, buoyed by the brilliance of my many bright stars.
Happy Thursday, all. Sorry so sappy this morning. I got caught up in a moment. May you find some magic in your moments.