Sometimes it’s hard to gauge when something is over.
Not tax season, of course.
Or the end of a movie.
Or the end of a game.
Or even the end of a trip.
There are very clear signals that each one of those things is finished. Canada Revenue starts calling you, the lights in the theater come up, the buzzer sounds, and the GPS throws up a checkered flag with a “you’ve arrived” message on your phone.
Okay, so maybe most of the things in our lives do have clearly delineated beginnings and endings.
But sometimes, it’s not clear. Like, do we have actual seasons in Saskatchewan? It’s confusing, considering they overlap like a bad Venn diagram: snow in spring, below zero in summer, heat wave in fall, and balmy Chinook-filled days of winter.
For me, in this moment, I am not in an enviable place as I try to gauge when the life of my 14.5 year old dog is over.
The signs are all there. They are getting clearer by the day. But because I can’t ask him if he’s okay to spend a few more days or weeks laying in the sunshine, even if I have to carry him to get there, I can’t truly know when it should be the end.
How much simpler it would be if he could just tell me. As Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” I wish it was clear.
God, do I wish it was clear.
But to be honest, people aren’t always much better. Kevin Kusch (Deputy Director of Learning at Lloydminster Catholic Division) said something at the Principal’s Short Course a few years ago that has totally stuck with me: people may not always tell you what they need, but people always project what they need.
Their actions are telling you. Being astute enough to listen is the hard part.
I’m only partway through “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg, a top executive at Facebook. She writes: “Growing up, I was taught to follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. But when someone is suffering, instead of following the Golden Rule, we need to follow the Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated. Take a cue from the person in distress and respond with understanding - or better yet, action.”
Sandberg goes on to say, “I was suffering from so many insecurities that I almost started a People Afraid of Inconveniencing Others support group, until I realized that all the members would be afraid of imposing on one another and no one would show up.”
That Nike commercial was right all along - just do it. Or more fittingly, the Particip-Action commercial from the 1980s - don’t just think about it, do it, do it, do it.
One of the things that I continue to work on is to be a better listener. To be a better observer. To think beyond my own perception of a situation and to examine the biases I bring to it - our ‘bias blindspots.’ These past few weeks in the world have given me plenty of time to reflect on that too.
So this week, I hope to be more astute.
To listen for what my students may need in our last week together.
To move from the Golden Rule to the Platinum one - to treat and give people not what I would want, but to treat and give people what they are telling me they need.
To watch what my dog is projecting, and hopefully letting me understand what he wants too.
And most of all, when it's obvious that something is over, to have the grace to accept it.
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