This is all going to sound overly sentimental, a little cliched, and naïve.
This… world can be inspiring and frustrating. It brings immense joy and frustration, peace and rage.
But it’s not the PLANET itself, it’s people.
I’ve been told the world doesn’t care about me. Well, not ME personally, but the planet Earth, the celestial body, this giant sphere (unless you’re one of those deranged flat-earthers) has no feelings, no opinions about humanity. It’s the people that we share this world with that matters.
This helps me recenter myself. The power, the influence on others is in our hands. Our decision and choices and actions. We can easily ruin or elevate someone’s life, their day, an everyday experience.
It’s easy to be kind. It takes hardly any effort at all.
Sometimes this feeling of frustration comes from seeing potential that is unfulfilled. Potential that is left aside by the people that can influence it. In the almost twenty years I’ve worked in education I’ve had countless interactions with students and some of them are incredibly talented and brilliant. The things they could do, the potential I see in them. My job is to help them see what opportunities await someone with their abilities. Their talents.
Sometimes that potential is neglected. This can be frustrating. To see someone who is incredibly talented, to be blessed with skills and a gift, but they just… don’t see it through. It’s easy to call them lazy and for some people this may be true but really, there could be a myriad of reasons why they are holding themselves back.
This can be frustrating to me. I know it’s not about ME, I get that. I also understand that there’s much I probably don’t know about a particular situation.
I’ve worked for several colleges over my career and I’ve seen unfunded programs, toxic departments, and horrible managers. I’ve seen financial investments that are short-sighted and unethical. It’s frustrating to see bonuses paid to the school’s president when my students are working with outdated technology in their biology classes. I’ve worked in departments where the person leading it is just… an asshole but no one does anything because that manager is friends with all the right people.
A team, a department, a campus could be so much more… there’s so much potential, but it’s being held back by greedy, uncaring, selfish, indifferent people.
Perhaps it’s naïve but so many problems seemed so… simple to fix… if the people who COULD fix it just stopped thinking about themselves. It’s frustrating to take a problem to my school’s leadership team but instead of a solution the situation dissolves to finger-pointing and blame and passing the problem to someone else until nothing gets fixed.
We each have potential. We have more when we work together.
The year is winding down. There’s not much more to do in remaining months of 2022. At my job a lot of what needs to be done is preparing for next year. In my personal life all the stress and action of moving is done. In some ways this is the most relaxed, most peace I’ve felt all year. It won’t last but for now it’s nice.
I spent most of last week traveling for my school. It was an exhausting week and this particular trip took more out of me than I had expected. I didn’t have much downtime. Usually I can decompress at my hotel or spend some time going to my favorite restaurants and book stores and lingerie shops but this trip was WORK WORK WORK.
I arrived at the airport for my flight home. I was already tired and the hour long line through security didn’t help. I was hungry and bitchy. After a little food my mood improved and for the first time that week I just… sat there. I thought about the last few days, the whirlwind of activity and meetings. The trip, in a way, was the last SUPER stressful thing of the year for me. My mind wandered and I thought about the year, both from a professional as well as a personal perspective.
It has been a good year.
But it’s not been without it’s frustrations, to put it mildly. I am not going to get into specifics but 2022 has seen so much in terms of legislation and action that hurt people. Whether it’s taking away a woman’s right to choose or… well, you know where I am going with all of this.
I boarded the plane and settled into my seat. I was next to a window and usually I read on my flight but my brain was a little tired so I just stared outside.
The plane lifted and I watched Denver get smaller. The buildings looked like models. The cars looked like toys. It wasn’t long until we were flying over endless miles of fields, lakes, and beauty. The sun was setting.
As we approached Minneapolis it was night and the lights of the city dotted the landscape. It was beautiful.
I’ve taken this flight a hundred times and I’ve seen this again and again but this time it just kind of hit different. It was probably just exhaustion that was making me more emotional and sentimental but I couldn’t help but think of the song “From a Distance”. I haven’t heard this song in decades but for a time you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing Bette Midler singing it.
From a distance, we all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed
I thought about this as I looked out the window. I saw acres of land where homes for the homeless could be built. I saw magnificent cities that are proof that we as humans can create.
I saw potential. I thought about potential. There’s room for all of us. We can do anything. If we can build skyscrapers and satellites and break the sound barrier and create vaccines and compose music that moves us… it’s easy to think that we can do everything. We can take care of each other. We all could have enough.
But we spend so much time and energy working against this. What could we accomplish if we didn’t waste time on laws about trans students playing sports? What kind of programs could we fund to help families if we weren’t giving billionaires tax breaks? What could we do if our leaders worked together? If we had a goal of accomplishing things that helped people?
The potential that we have. We could do it.
I know this is all an oversimplification. I know there’s going to be a lot of emails and comments blaming different political figures and parties. I have my opinions about all of that but for now I’m just thinking that from that airplane, from a distance, I just cannot comprehend what all this fighting’s for.