Homework, specifically my son’s homework; that is the problem. My son has an appointment. In the waiting room, I read and grapple with the problem of the homework. The Voice in my head says, “It’s not the homework that’s the problem. It’s how you are perceiving it.”
I reply enthusiastically, “I’m the problem. I am my own problem.”
The mental challenge of a good puzzle grips me and I start to think of creative ways to re-frame this picture.
Homework, in and of itself is not a problem. It just is.
If too much of it is missing, his grades will go down. He might not even pass. Is that really the worse thing that could happen? Isn’t the point of homework to have something upon which to base a grade?
Don’t get me wrong. In my perfect world, students everywhere love homework. In my perfect world, homework is a way of learning more, of discovering on one’s own, of expanding knowledge and the quality of life. My perfect world doesn’t exist outside the confines of my cranium. Yet.
Homework is a necessary part of the system in which my son participates. Usually, it’s busy work, a way of giving teachers something upon which to base grades. Loads of it is rather pointless but it is a requirement and pointless requirements won’t stop when homework ends.
Homework is serving an important function. It provides him an opportunity. He can develop character as he does something that needs to be done, something that he doesn’t want to do. It requires patience and perseverance and these are qualities of character that I would like to see him nurture.
Again, the Voice interrupts me, “Listen,” it says. “This isn’t about homework. It’s about your perception.”
My mind zips through the memory tape of the last week. I hear myself generate a bit of passion as I oppose this or that thing. I have a knack for making even questionable arguments sound good. The Voice knows that and rarely lets me get away with anything for very long. There I am staring at the memory of myself, finding problems where opportunities also lie. I wasn’t seeing them.
I dont’ know about you but I’m much rather meet opportunities every day than a string of problems.
The Voice cuts in again, “Listen, you really are doing a great job. You’re learning to cooperate more and more with the Voice in your head and that’s a huge leap forward.”
It is isn’t it?
I remember back to this last week. Opening my time sheet, I discovered that half of the hours I worked weren’t there. Horrors! My mind quickly assembles an action plan. As I march to the contact point, the person who might be able to solve this very real problem, the Voice in my head speaks to me.
Voice: “Stuff happens. It can be fixed. Getting upset isn’t going to change a thing except make you unhappy.”
Me: “Shouldn’t I be upset? This is a big deal. I don’t make enough as it is. This could be a disaster!”
Sometimes silence is the best answer of all. In that space, I took anxiety and stress and swept it out of my psyche with a soft swat on its bottom.)
Me: “It can be fixed. Getting upset is only going to upset me. It’s just not worth it.”
The contact person was at lunch. Obviously, this was a test and now I was determined to pass it. Several times, worry tried to climb into my head and take over but I chased it away.
Finally, I make contact with the one person who might be able to solve this for me. Once I explain the situation, she attends to the problem my updating the computer records and prints out a new sheet.
Quietly, she says to herself, “This can be fixed. I can do this.”
She had no idea that those were the very words that I was telling myself.
She apologizes for not remembering how to log my hours and for the new payroll system that has her guessing. I have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and say to her, “Things happen.” And, I smile.
Things do happen. Homework happens. Mistakes happen. We lose things and people. It’s so easy to take on the world, to struggle to survive. As long as I remain captive in that struggle mindset, all I will get will be the struggle. I won’t see anything else. There really is a lot more going on than just my struggles.
Waiting, in the lobby, I am reading. I stop to listen. The Voice doesn’t disappoint.
“Everything you’ve been given, everything that happens or doesn’t happen can be used to serve Me, others and yourself.”
The Voice adds, “It’s all gift. It’s all opportunity. Living with this belief coursing through you isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be a struggle but it doesn’t change the gift or the opportunity.”
A light, calm feeling starts at the top of my head and slowly flows through my body and out the ends of my fingers and toes. I close my eyes for a second or two, lost in the sense of peace, in something that feels right. Faith can feel that good.