Sometimes life gives you a reminder to not sweat the small stuff.
I’ve been known to stress about a thing or two. I’ve spent more nights than I care to remember worrying about things I could not control. Things that seemed important in the moment. Issues that drew my attention like a laser pinpointing a target, zooming in, locking on, zeroed in and focused.
There’ve been serious things, like worries about the kids and anxiety about money, relationships that hit bumps and frustrations with the job. And silly things, like a Giants' bullpen meltdown or the gaining of a few post holiday pounds. Each one in the moment seemed important enough to worry about and worry I have.
Last night a new student sat down in class.
“I just added your class,” he said. “Do you have a syllabus?”
I handed him the syllabus and we chatted about what he’d missed, where we were and how he could catch up. A bunch of other students came up to complain about difficulties they were having, many of them really frustrated with a technical glitch we were having with the accompanying on-line material to the book I had chosen. I was frustrated too. I had spent hours on the phone with tech support and many more hours fielding calls and emails from students who were at wits end with the whole ordeal. After a couple of minutes, I proceeded to finish the lecture that I had spent the better part of two days preparing, and yes, even stressing about.
At the end of the class, the new guy came up to check in.
“I notice that you’re planning on giving the final on the 19th of May,” he said. “I’m leaving on the 17th. Can I arrange to take it early?”
“Of course,” I replied, doing my best helpful teacher imitation. “We could do it the week before. Just remind me when we get closer.”
“Not a problem,” he replied. “Thanks.” And he proceeded to pack up his things. As he head towards the door, he turned to say goodbye.
“By the way,” I said in a light and breezy tone, “Where are you going?”
“Iraq,” he said and I felt my heart catch in my throat.
“How long are you going to be there?” I asked him, unsure of what else to say.
“A year at least,” he replied. “I guess it all depends on who wins the election.”
You got that right.