September was the best month. Actually August and October were too. That was when I officially felt 40. All of a sudden thing that would normally upset me, just didn’t matter. After all, I was too old for the “drama.” It was my turn to tell younger people that there was more to life than worrying about whatever problem they felt was pressing them. By 40 you know you are out of contol and you do the best you can with the hand that life has dealt you. It was like riding the roller coaster at Disneyland. (If my kids are reading this, Um by the way sons one weekend when I had you stay at a friends house for a weekend I went to Disneyland. But life paid me back for the wrong. I caught the Asian flu and was so sick I thought I was going to die. I will never go to a fun place without my minor children.) It’s exciting because of that free fall feeling; yet in your heart of hearts you know that you’re not going to die. That’s what makes the roller coaster so fun. That’s what 40 feels like. The roller coaster is still there
So what happened last night should not have happened. Ooh, if I was in my 20’s it would sound like something risque. But I’m 40, so it was one of those life defining moments. I’m putting the yearbook pages together and I can not find the pictures for the entire boys basketball season. I am overcautious when handling the pictures. I will not delete a picture until I am absolutely sure that I have it saved in two and sometimes three different locations. Let’s take a gander in the “my picture file.” Not there? Hmmm, what about the 8 gig flash drive. Nope this uncomfortable feeling is creeping in my chest. What about the flash drive from last year that I keep as a safety? Now I am agitated. This is not like me. Maybe I put it on another SD card. Now I’m reminding myself that I am 40. That means I am responsible. Right? So I go through three of my backups. I go through every backup I have and am falling and don’t think I can get up.
Go to sleep and you’ll find it. I still have two other computers that I use for yearbook. The day was long I worked 11 hours and forgot to eat. The best thing is to go to sleep and deal with the problem in the morning. Too bad my heart wasn’t listening to my head. An hour into a supposed to be peaceful slumber my heart was sad. How could I have messed up something so important? The kids will be disappointed. The season ended a month ago so there is no way I could go back and retake the pictures. At 12:30 I am up. Like a ghost I go back to my hauntings and try to relive moments. What was I doing at the time I took the pictures. Thinking that perhaps my fatigue caused an oversight so I go through all the flash drives.
All the while my heart is telling me that the pictures are on my desk computer. Go to sleep and it will be o.k. in the morning. But I can’t go to sleep because if I am wrong I have potentially hurt people. Yet I know I am right because this is one of those things with which I am especially careful. My head will not let the rest of me rest. My eyes watched the hours go by and now I wonder if I should get a substitute. Finally by 3 a.m. I am relaxed enough to go to sleep.
Sure enough I go into work and head straight to the computer and lo and behold the pictures are on the computer. That scream you heard at about 8 am Mountain Standard Time was me screaming with joy. The beauty of loving your job is the passion is there even when you aren’t. There was a moment when I had to fuss because the kids were trying to get away with not learning. This is nothing new, but more than I could handle. There was a rant. Normally the kids burst out in fits of laughter when I rant. It is the truth explained in a way that is less than conventional but the truth and it is in a weird sort of way a bonding moment for us. After my rant one of the kids hearing the fatigue in my voice asked me, “are you crying?’ My response was an honest, “No I’m just really tired.” After that teaching was a joy. The kids learned and even commented on how the way I explained things helped clarify things they were confused about prior.
The problem is none of this should have happened. I am 40 and know my strengths and am growing comfortable with my weaknesses. The weaknesses make for a more effective person because the vulnerabilty forces me to work through love. That is why I would never have deleted a picture from a camera before making sure it was in a safe place. My head, my strength doubted. Conversely, my heart, my weakness, knew it. You’d think that I’d have figured it out by 40. It better happen soon, because I’m getting too old to stay up at night worrying about a problem that never existed in the first place. …………………………………….
Or maybe- moments like this happen so I can be sympathetic when I walk in and see one of my students sitting in the hallway with their hands in their head crying because they are so overwhelmed with whatever feeling that has rocked their world. It is nights like these that add the tenderness in my voice when I sit on the ground next to them and try to console them through their pain. So maybe the sleepless night wasn’t such a bad thing after all.