Recognizing Who We Are Today! (a draft)

We experienced a tragedy in (our community) last week. We lost a young man as the result of a traffic accident. He touched many hearts. The city, the district, the students were all impacted by the loss of (student), a student known by many for his affectionate and charming persona, an infectious personality. I listened to a couple of students the night of the tragedy talk about the immediacy, how quickly a life is taken, that we cannot quite comprehend the confusion such a loss leaves us when just hours before they were standing right next to the young man, full of life. We are all surely saddened by tragedy, yet, we are also enlightened by the way the students rallied around the celebration of this young man’s short life. In an intrigue, this experience speaks to an aspect of the beauty of our lives in (our community) as we recognize the diverse nature of our community.

On Friday, as the news flooded social media the night before, the students all wore white to honor the young man. I was amazed to look around the school and see nearly 90% of the student body dressed in white. The sight provided a welcome contrast to the negative image our district has attained in recent months. Here’s why.

What happened inside our school buildings on Friday mattered to the students, they were the ones being represented and cared for, and they responded with more unity than I have seen in my career as a teacher. I watched a school that put aside curriculum for the day, and reasoned with the reality of the human condition in every step of the way. In mid-day, there was a service, known as a ‘smudge’ provided by the young man’s family – his Native American heritage celebrated – and in attendance easily hundreds of students witnessed a cultural phenomena with open arms and respectful intrigue.

I said to a friend of mine late Thursday night, that (young man’s) loss would be a unifying force for allowing our students to recognize life as a whole rather than an individual need for survival. I watched kids from every walk of life hug one other, speak kindly to each other, and embrace grieving in a thoughtful and beautiful manner. (young man’s) death was responsible for that coming together of a school district.

Even more intriguing, I attended a football game that night, a ‘Friday night lights’ experience during which both the visitors and the home team wore white to symbolize (our community) tragic loss. It was remarkable to watch the unification of two school’s students who all recognized together the beauty of life and the tragedy of loss. But together they created and expressed a natural silver lining. Ironically, several schools around the region also showed unity and compassion by wearing white in a symbolic gesture of support. My boss said to me today, ‘It’s a small world’ when I shared my delight in the actions of many.

This weekend we celebrate the loss of a beautiful young man, one that I did not know personally, but understood to have touched the lives of many, including many students in the drama program, for which I am an advisor. The lesson learned from this weekend’s start of the healing process, is that we as a district do embrace the beauty of a unique population of student body that do and can believe in one another if given the proper resources. We as a community need to do our part in assuring our students that we can go forward together.

I think (young man) is imagining how special our world is given his new perspective, and his engaging smile is suggestive of our need to recognize his gift and not forget the message his role in the circle of life provides us all.

*names withheld to respect the student and family.

Standing Room Only

strangers together

A Saturday morning,

an American coffee shop,

a normal milling of the usual,

latte, specialty drinks, fritters,

my black coffee,

and people scattered throughout the room

wearing their apple watches, laptops, fit-bits,

along with the regular crowd …

~

An iconic assortment defines who we are

as a society living within each other’s reach,

eye contact, thoughts, ability to dialogue,

all of our bodies sharing an energy far beyond our comprehension.

~

These are the moments when I wish I could

speak directly to the minds of everyone around me

without interrupting, without invading, without discouraging,

a happiness, a need to concentrate, a desire to have fantasy

take them away if just for the sip of their coffee drink,

away from the pain and suffering and confusion that does truly

intrude upon their daily lives.

~

I suppose most of the time when we think of others

we are certainly measuring our own,

so now is when I could acknowledge those fears

to be inside me,

that inner demon that allows me only certain moments

of quiet solace in the crowd.

I end up thinking though that if I am one,

suffice there are probably many.

where I stand to reflect upon my day,

another might bury themselves in their

quest to figure out why they are so consumed.

~

We all stand together separate, engaged, disjointed,

We all prefer standing room only to human interaction.

~

*photo found on rulesforhumans.wordpress.com