It’s interesting to think about the very last. Do I remember the last time I sailed on a boat? Or the last time I laid in the warm sunshine? Do I remember the last time I drew my fingers across guitar strings? What about the last time I smiled at a particular person I know? Or bought macaroni and cheese? Some of these things are monumental memories. And some are just daily occurrences. Some are memorable and others just melt into that mush of experiences I can vaguely recall.
I think about every little opportunity that comes my way during a typical day. In the life of a teacher, there are thousands every HOUR. Thousands of opportunities to make a tiny impact to hundreds of little minds and hearts every day… every hour… every minute. How is it that these opportunities sliiiiiiiiiiide by and I find myself at the end of the day having taken advantage of one or two of those opportunities?
I have a quote framed by my desk. It is from the noted author, Henry David Thoreau: “To affect the quality of the day… That is the highest of the arts.” Every single person who has touched my life in a memorable way has aligned with this philosophy. This is the ideal that I strive for… and fall short of.
I remember the very last time I saw one of my students before he passed away later that day. He was wearing a knight’s clothing. Breastplate, helmet, sword, and carried a shield. Halloween is a time of celebration in an elementary school. He was the first to have his turn in a game that day. I remember being really glad I had started with him that day in the game. It’s the little things that soothe us when we lose someone. I remember sitting at my desk with tears splashing across my plan book. “At least he had his turn in the game,” I thought.
I wonder if this was my last semester of teaching, how would I do it? What would I change? I would smile every student into the room and tell them how glad I was that they had come to visit me and to learn with me that day. I have a great friend who is a wonderful musician. One day he gave me the best advice – “When you sing, sing as though it’s the last time you will ever sing.”
When I teach, teach as though it’s the last time I will ever teach. When I listen, listen as though it’s the last time I will ever listen. When I love, love as though it’s the last time I will ever love.
THAT is how I will live this day.