Growing up, I heard about water conservation and gas shortages. Sounded like another lesson to memorize, but it didn’t inspire me to take shorter showers or keep the faucet off while I brushed my teeth.
Sometimes, I think we’re as careless rationing the valuable resources that pepper our emotional biosphere. We waste time playing Candy Crush instead of choosing to interact with people around us. Procrastination paves our daily to-do lists with something other than lines indicating accomplishment.
Sometimes it takes an emotional earthquake to shake us out of our wasteful stupor. Time is valuable; once it is spent, there’s no bringing it back, and it can’t be hoarded like Scrooge McDuck’s gold. Life is more than lists. We can make a difference or we can trudge along, minding our own business.
Hours and days have been invested by me into the lives of middle school students. Many of these kids touched my heart. All of them meant more to me than a paycheck. (If you saw the size of the check, you’d understand I’m not really esteeming them all that highly.)
One student entered my classroom, a pixie of positive energy. Her voice, made more childish by a slight diction issue, spread feel-good fairy dust whenever I heard it. The round face of seventh grade matured to a lovely young woman’s features by the end of eighth grade.
I spent several hours each school day with this girl. Some days felt like weeks. She would probably say they drug on for a year. Hyperbole, a teenager’s best friend.
“The sixteen-year-old driver was killed in the crash.”
Time stalls for no one. It doesn’t give an extra second to those in desperate need. All that time I spent with her, not enough, non-renewable.
A winding road in the wee morning hours combined with the whir of the tires against pavement to create a lullaby. Snapping awake when the tires spun on the gravelly shoulder, the driver jerks the wheel. Too sharply.
The car rolls end over end. Seat belts strangle the two occupants. Air bags deploy to soften the impact. The windshield shatters, spraying glass shards into the front seats.
“Police suspect driver fatigue could be the cause of the accident.”
Only 16 short years of life – gone. No mulligans. No second chances. Life is a precious commodity and sadly, non-renewable.
Several months before this, almost two years after she spent all those hours in the classroom with me, I saw the pixie at the grocery store. Or I should say, she saw me. Ran up to me and threw her arms around me.
I’m not much of a hugger, but her affection softened my reserve. I returned the hug and asked about her life. School wasn’t going so well. There were so many activities at high school to distract from doing homework. She missed having someone like me to help her understand the assignments and encourage her to complete them.
She was floored when I said I wasn’t working at the middle school anymore. “But you were one of my favorite teachers.”
Precious words. The time wasn’t ill-spent. Meaning infused those years of my life. Apparently, the investment paid dividends.
What other “non-renewable resources” do you see being wasted or well-used in our world? Don’t let it take an earthquake to make you consider conservation and productive use of these irreplaceable commodities.