87: Simple Pleasures

87: Simple Pleasures

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales

Simple Pleasures

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.

~John Lennon

I taught high school for years in St. Louis County and had the joy of knowing many wonderful kids. Of all the students I taught, a few still stand out in my mind like gifts, each one changing and adding to my life.

One student, Scott Wood, was especially close to my heart and still is to this day. One of the subjects I taught was Creative Writing, a topic that lent itself to getting to know my students personally through their writings. Scott came as a junior, a new student in the area and at Lafayette High School. He wrote brilliantly. I mean, there it was, that ingredient one cannot “teach” into someone. He was able to express through his written word how much he was struggling and it enabled me to light his way a little.

Scott and other students were often in my home, at my kitchen table, sharing supper. It was amazing to me that what I said to them about life and love, and making time for the important things actually sunk in. I watched them put these lessons into practice as I followed their lives after graduation. Scott, especially, did this, and still does this today.

I know this because we stay very connected via e-mail, letters, even visits. The thing is, he has done just as much for me. I get discouraged sometimes because of ill health, pain, and family tragedy, and sometimes I tell him this. Recently I told him I felt particularly down. Here is what he e-mailed back to me:

I remember you coming into class one day late. You were rushing to get the class started but you had a great big grin on your face, like the cat who had eaten the canary. Anyway, you proceeded to tell all of us in the class that you were late because of a very special reason. It had snowed the night before but instead of scraping the ice off of your windows in the car, you let the car heater take care of it and you sat and watched in wonder as the water slowly started flowing down your window. I think about this a lot when the weather begins getting cold, how most of us miss the simple treasure—ice melting. Just like a sunrise, I suppose. Every day is a blessing, right? Is that not what you always told us? That is how you lived and that is how you told us to live.

Ice melting. I do not recall this incident but, thinking back, it rings very true. That is what I believed, that is what I taught. After reading his reply, I just sat back in my chair and, in my heart and mind, I returned to those days. When did I lose my ice-melting self? Had I lost it?

The more I sat and thought and traveled back, the more I realized I hadn’t really lost my ice-melting self, just sort of pushed it aside too often. I remembered the day on the beach right at sunset when my husband Gene and I married. The sky was pink and the air salty and there was such love there that day that even two raccoons and three joggers stopped to feel it. Gene actually stopped the ceremony to ask everyone with us to be aware of the perfection of the moment. It, too, was an ice-melting moment.

You know, just to make it clear, an “ice-melting moment” to me is that moment you stop time for—you stop everything for—because it is too precious to miss. Scott, my student long ago, made me remember to never be too busy to stop the world, stop the clock for the magical moments in our daily lives.

~Jean Brody

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