Which lens do you look through when examining a situation? When there are many things that are true about a situation, which corner of the truth do you focus on and develop in your mind?
My mind keeps going to the moment my face hit the concrete, Sunday night. Walking home from a lovely dinner, after a lovely day, my flip flop caught on raised cement. It was dark out. I had enjoyed drinks at dinner. So you get where this is going.....I didn't even know I was falling until I was down. Then the blood. And the feeling that something wasn't right inside my mouth.
My front tooth cut in half, with the bottom half being wedged in my lower lip. There were other scrapes and cuts but the tooth was really the biggest concern. So, now, do I focus on how 2020 totally sucks and bad things keep happening? Do I continue to relive face hitting pavement in my mind?
Or can I tell you about the kind, empathetic dentist who received my panicked phone call at 9pm on a Sunday. He was reassuring and said "I can help you." He called me early the next morning and by noon on Monday, the tooth fragment was gone from my lip and my front tooth was bonded.
While I lay in the chair and he fixed my injuries, I thought about his third grade teacher. Did she know that the little boy she taught would grow to be a dentist who could change someone's life by being able to fix a smile? Maybe that sounds dramatic, but his help utterly made all the difference to me. I can not fix a broken tooth. Seeing my smile without a main part of it felt devastating. And the tooth stuck in my lip made me feel panicked. In the span of an hour, he made it right. And I wondered about all his teachers along the way, who not only helped him hone his skills but also encouraged him to be a person who is reassuring, reliable and kind?
Today I start back to work for four days of professional development before the children come in. What lens will I look through? Will I focus on all the restrictions and what I can't do? Will I focus on all the things that have changed? Can I choose to look through the lens of potential and possibility, and remember that each one of my students will touch the lives of many people in whatever field they choose. What can I do to help them become not only skilled thinkers but compassionate people?
When I picture myself hitting the concrete, I tell my brain to focus on the dentist who helped me. And then I think about his teachers and how so many people contribute to the making of a person. And how we can help each other and make life easier for each other. So I'll look through the lens of possibility and gratitude and with my newly bonded tooth, I'll smile under my mask.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski