Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Beauty of Afterthoughts

I spend a lot of time thinking about things before they happen.  When I know I am going to talk with somebody, I hear the entire conversation over and over in my head.  Each morning as I drive to school, I envision the day's lesson plan from beginning to end multiple times.   I compose blog entries twenty times over in my mind before I even get to the keyboard.

Yesterday, I was headed to the front door when I decided to throw on a scarf for a bit of extra warmth.  I went to my closet and grabbed a handknit rainbow-colored scarf my aunt made for Michael when he was two.   It wasn't a very long scarf given that it had been made for a child, just enough to wrap around my neck once to protect me a bit from the sharp air.  Honestly, when I arrived at school, I almost took it off . But I didn't -- each time I glanced down and saw that splash of rainbow, I warmed at the memories of my little boy on Christmas morning playing outside with that scarf wrapped around him.

Every period that day at least one student complimented my scarf and several staff members did as well.  Each time I was able to share my story of Michael, his chunky body bundled up, his blonde curls poking out from under his beanie, and the rainbow scarf bright as his holiday spirit.   

Had I planned my accessorizing the way I normally do, I never would have chosen the rainbow scarf.  My plan would likely have included something much less folksy and more in line with what others would be wearing.  But then I would have missed out on all those opportunities to reminisce about my son who has grown well beyond those toddler days.  In the busyness of the day, finding time for memories is rare. 

Afterthoughts can come in so many forms -- a gift we buy spontaneously for a friend, a heartwarming PS at the end of an email, a word of encouragement as a student heads out the door.   Planning and thinking certainly have their value and I don't foresee myself giving up on either anytime soon, but I also want to be sure I see the beauty in the afterthoughts, those moments, words, actions that occur when thinking stops and feelings begin.

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