Wednesday, January 28, 2015
She Wore a Smile
You have probably noticed that I’ve hit a dry spell in my writing lately. Call it lack of interest. Call it lack of time. Or call it, for lack of anything else, writer’s block. At the same time, I am feeling an intense need to turn inward, to focus on my personal health and well being, to move other things to the bottom of the pile and to focus on me. I know it appears that I write for my own purposes, and I do, but my words are meant always to speak to YOU, to lift and motivate, encourage, inspire. So, in an effort to find my way back to the keyboard and to move the focus onto my own needs for just a minute, I have decided to use this blog for the next little while as a journal of positive things that happen in my day. The goal is to post a snippet, a paragraph or two, even an entire essay on one thing that occurred during the course of the day that made me smile, that lifted me, that spoke to my heart. So, raise a glass and join me if you will. Here’s to words, real and true, beautiful in the way they paint a story, in the way they capture a moment, in the way they dance themselves onto page.
She wore a smile and a look of recognition. Headed my way, the smile grew as she drew closer. She threw a hug around me that meant business, the kind that envelops your entire being. “I still have that picture of all those positive words we wrote all over the board.” They called her Zeta. She showed up in my class one term, for a bit. And then she dropped. Some students do this. A professor gets used to it. Sometimes you know the story. Sometimes you don’t. She was not wearing a smile during that first term.
Life has a way of testing us to see exactly how strong we can be. She passed this particular test and showed up once more in my class later that same year. I teach about people. About who we are and why we are who we are and what we might do to be better human beings. Sometimes lecture gets a little too “textbook” for my liking. Those who have had it easy in life, who have had dinner on the table every night, a warm bed to sleep in, parents who love them, tend to see development as nothing but bullet points, exam questions, and a flash card or two. We had reached just such a moment in class. Then Zeta raised her hand.
She had been passed around. Kicked out. Had raised a sibling or four. She lived in more places than I can recall at the moment. At one point in her high school career, a teacher had, with every intent of seriousness, told her that she would be good for nothing in this life except lying on her back making babies. She was from the wrong side of the wrong side of the tracks. But her spirit was large, her smile infinite. She was like the doll that gets knocked down again and again but just continues to keep popping back up.
We made class happen for her that term.
And, now, here she is coming toward me in the hall, smile as beautiful as always. “I still have that picture. I look at it. It makes me smile. It makes me remember your class. I STILL remember your class.” Oh, and Zeta. I remember YOU. I STILL remember YOU.