Elation from Vacation
I am an educator. And part of my job does entail coming up with catchy phrases that rhyme. I apologize in advance for blog post titles that reflect this sacred duty.
But before I head off on that road, and wind up in major trouble, I have been plagued by deep thoughts. Well, not that deep. Not when you consider life-altering questions like how they get the peanut inside the shell. But thoughts nonetheless. You see, I made a promise to myself during my recent trip through South America. I was so swept away by all the beauty I saw, and the magic I experienced, that I wanted to do all I could to keep that feeling going once I got back home. I didn’t want to let the grind of the day to day take away the feelings of elation I experienced on my trip. And I knew I could find moments of bliss and magic in my everyday life. I knew if I kept my eyes open, and my spirit soaring, I could find it… even in the smog-shrouded streets of Los Angeles.
Well, that has been more of a struggle than I anticipated.
One of the first things I did when I got back was get my promised tattoo. I had decided early on in my trip that I wanted a lighthouse and an albatross tattooed on my arm. Then I would always carry a reminder: be brave, and keep your eyes open for the magic.
Well, thank the albatrosses I got that tattoo. I look at it every day to remind myself of those promises.
And it’s not like things are terrible. It’s just that fighting off the day-to-day grind is more challenging than I thought. I pictured taking moments here and there to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, the laughter of small children, or the peace of a good book and glass of wine (okay, bottle), and that would be enough. And they should be. They really should be. But this past week, they just weren’t.
I can’t put my finger exactly on what it was that brought me down. I did have a bad day at work – and while I am going to try to keep The Realist Adjusts the Sails away from commentary on my job, I am realizing more and more that my job is so much of who I am, I can’t cut it completely from this platform – and bad days at work can send me into a tailspin. So if I had to point the finger, I would definitely blame it on the bad day.
But I should have recovered from that quickly. And I felt down for days. The bad day was nothing extraordinary. I am an educator, so most of my day is spent in front of people, teaching. And 97% of the time, it is the best thing I do. I love working with our guests, especially our young ones, and sharing our amazing museum with them. But, once in a while, I do have what I call the zombie guests. The ones who stare at you, glassy-eyed, borderline-drooling, and so far gone mentally, they won’t even respond to simple “yes” or “no” questions.
No joke. I have had guests who won’t even answer the question: “have you ever visited us before?” with nothing more than a blink of those glassy eyes and a slurp of the drool running down their chin.
And not to get all defensive, but I loathe working with those guests. It’s a waste of my time, and theirs too, and every time I’m stuck with them, I want to scream: why are you even here?!?!? If you’re so bored, then go!!
Luckily, I don’t get those guests too often. But when they do come through … man, they are a downer in a big way.
And as I reflected on this bad day, I wondered: does my desire to find that moment of bliss everyday make the bad days that much more depressing? I certainly hope not. But it did feel like it took me longer than normal to bounce back from that one.
Bounce back, I did, though. My bad day was Saturday, March 29. I woke up this past Saturday and I finally felt recharged and ready to dive back into the search for the bliss and the magic. Which is good now, but this past week? There were so many moments that could and should have been my winners. For example, this past Wednesday, I had 120+ eighth graders come visit the museum on a field trip. 8th grade? Not my favorite age group to work with. In fact, I tend to shy away from the junior high / high school crowd. I like working with the elementary school kids the best, or the adults, but anyone between the age of 10 and 21 is … well, anyway.
But this particular crowd? They were fantastic!! They were some of the best kids I have worked with in ages. I had a blast with them, and they had a blast with me. And that is what I live for – those moments when I can see the light on the students’ faces. When they find the answer to a question; when they see something that awes them and takes their breath away; when they feel inspired and empowered; and when they have fun … especially in an educational setting like a museum. Double all that when the students in question are tweens or teens, and I should have been floating through the stratosphere. Now, when I think back on that day, I am. I can’t help but smile. But Wednesday? All I felt after the kids had come and gone, was tired.
And those amazing interactions continued through the rest of the week. Every day in fact. But it was always the same until this past Saturday. I just felt tired. It wasn’t until Saturday that the giddiness I generally feel in these interactions came back. It came back in force, and I’m sure part of that is because my guests this past Saturday were spectacular too. I had some amazing kids come visit. In fact, wanna talk about heart melting? I had two young girls who hugged me when they left the museum, they had such a great time. I had another young girl bring me a flower she had made at a craft table I was managing, and I had a young guy tell me that he was having “the best time EVER” on his visit. Like I said before: this is what I live for. I hope I am making a difference in these kids’ lives.
So it feels good to have my mojo back, at least for the time being, but what a fight to get there. I guess I can’t complain though – isn’t this what life is all about? Finding the keys to our own happiness? Appreciating what we have when we have it? I know every day can’t be sunshine and rainbows, but I still hope that I don’t ever give up the search for the magic. Even on the crappy days. I hope I keep reminding myself. Because even though it took a while to bounce back, the feelings I am experiencing now as I reflect on my education wins this past week are worth it. And maybe next time it won’t take as long to bounce back.