Angry bird sighting in Tryon
From the superintendent’s desk
One of my favorite proverbs reads, “I complained I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”
Perhaps a drastic contrast, but a helpful reminder, nonetheless. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the negative feelings we all have sometimes, especially when associated with a lack of control, loss of material possessions, or some type of personal affront.
When we lose loved ones, worry about our jobs, have trouble with family members, we lose sight of the good. It’s hard not to feel like the entire world is on your shoulders or that people are conspiring against you when you have a bad day, week or month. The proverb reminds me that keeping perspective is difficult but extremely important. This is especially true in times like these.
I recently went into a pseudo-rage about dropping my pizza off the baking pan as I took it out of the oven. I had turned around, stepped forward and my dog was under foot and I stumbled. Sauce and toppings all over the kitchen floor, beyond any five-second rule salvageability. It was good frozen pizza, too, not the cardboard frisbee style.
“What? What a stupid dog! Why is this happening to me? I’m a good person, I try to work hard and treat people well. I can’t have anything. Nothing has gone right. Is this really how it’s going to be?”
Then I stopped and realized, I was yelling at myself as nobody else was around.
I looked at my canine companion and therapist who was hunkered down, uneasy because of my tone. Was I dumb enough to think it was the dog’s plan? Perhaps . . . she likes pizza. Nope, it was my fault. In a hurry I combined distraction with clumsiness. I caught my “angry bird face” reflecting in the kitchen window.
I replayed the rant in my mind. Am I really getting this upset about frozen pizza? Who is this ridiculous person?
Although likely a culmination of the frustrations and negative energy encountered during the day, I lost the ability to maintain perspective. It is part of our nature, it happens to all of us and it is hard to combat.
I am frequently asked as you likely are, “How are you today?” I often respond, “I’m happy to be on this side of the ground”, or “It’s another peachy day in paradise in Polk County”. I am really sincere, but I think sometimes people believe I am being trite or cliché, or maybe overstating some fake joy for appearances. But when I really step back and think of all the reasons I have to be thankful, appreciative and gracious, I find perspective once again. It’s important to make yourself do that.
I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful wife, son and family. I have the best dog, ever. I don’t even mind our cats (they’re kinda OK). I have a job that I love, a roof over my head and food on the table (even if I did have to end up making a PB&J). I have friends and loved ones who actually choose to be around me. I get to live and work in an incredible community with amazing folks like you. If that ain’t peachy, people, I don’t know what is. I just have to remind myself sometimes.
So, I challenge you to take a moment and reflect on the good things in your life. What are you thankful for, appreciative of and why you should be gracious? I bet you can come up with a pretty good list if you try.
We all have different challenges, circumstances and troubling events in our lives. I am not suggesting that we all run around delusionally singing James Taylor songs (or Taylor Swift, depending on your age) just because we have running water. I am offering that we can take time to step back and really focus on the good parts of our lives and the opportunities we have to create a better existence for others.
Tell the people you love and appreciate that you do. Remind yourself how lucky we are to be here, now, as we are. And if you can’t find a path to that place on your own, let someone help you get there. We are blessed in so many ways if we are willing to take the time to acknowledge them. The more we remind ourselves of this, the more likely we will be kind, patient, resilient and fulfilled.
I will try not to yell over spilled pizza any