I had a dream last night that I was a passenger in a car. My mother was driving (this surprised me, even in the dream; Mom hasn't driven much since 2010) and my two sisters were in the back, and we were talking about a meal we'd just had together. Mom was talking about the dessert, I think, but I couldn't tell because suddenly her words weren't actual words, even though her tone and inflection were still normal. In the dream, I realize that she's having another attack of aphasia and realize she needs help. I ask her to pull over, and the car slowly drifts to the shoulder, but keeps moving. Becoming more distressed, I ask her to put the car in park, to change the gear -- but looking over, there's now no one in the driver's seat, so I grab the gear lever on the steering column and force it up, and the car stops. I look in the back and see Mom's now back there, flanked by my sisters, the three of them somewhat crowded in the back, and I think, That looks uncomfortable. And then I woke up.
So, yes, my subconscious saw fit to inform me that even if I feel I have no control over my life, I actually do. Or, I could, if I would just take it. Thanks, unconscious brain!
I have heard hundreds of sermons on the transformative power of love. Sometimes, though, you can hear a thing many times before you actually understand it. Fr Rafael today spoke about how the act of loving changes us, as much if not more so than being loved, using the example of Peter's profession of love for Jesus from this week's gospel. This actually ties back to the out-of-control dream, which connects to my recent discouragement at work (which, you know, is actually school.)
I have a student who drove me crazy last year in seventh grade and was making me nuts this year, too, until I just decided to stop that and really listen to him and be kind. It would be delightful to say that he's really turned around and become a great student, but that's never going to happen for many reasons -- but it is delightful that he doesn't vex me anymore.
It's also delightful that I'm having visits from all the younger children, who have so much fun in my classroom. My colleagues can't understand why I'm so willing to give up my prep hour to have the littles come in. It's a bit awkward to tell them I love them, and really mean it, but I do. And when I say I love teaching junior high students, they're like toddlers in teenagers' bodies, and they change so much over these two years, they need so much help! I really mean that, too.
I am never happy if I'm holding back.
On the other hand... I (finally) know myself well enough to know that minor bumps get blown up in my imagination or psyche into major dramas, and if I talk about it, or write about, or obsess about it... everything gets worse. I think about what I should do or say, when, where, how, to whom, endlessly looking for a solution to a problem that probably doesn't even exist. So if I'm upset about something, I'm going to make myself at least sleep on it before deciding whether or not it's actually "a thing" that requires attention.
I can actually do this now, whereas in the past I couldn't detach myself. I'm glad about that, but wondering what took me so long. Or perhaps I've had this ability in the past (something seems familiar about this resolution) and just forgot, or lost it.
Trying this recently, very few incidents survive to become "things" that need me to do anything. I can feel sad about something without having to try to change it, and I can let others manage their own affairs.
This approach leaves me with some energy to apply to useful and pleasant activities that help offset that sadness and frustration. This week that meant sending another article idea to my adviser, because if teaching is making me a little crazy, writing about teaching intrigues me. I know it'll take months and months, but I want to publish.