Yesterday we finished our work here in Winnipeg. The three and a half days training with staff had come to an end. The afternoon training with people with intellectual disabilities was done. I had the experience, just for a moment or two, to sit alone in the training room. I found myself there as the last of the people with disabilities had gone out the door at the back of the room to join their staff or find their own way home. I could hear the buzz at the back of the room but I could also hear the quiet of the room in which I had spent the last few days.
As I've gotten older, it's become more and more important for me to have moments like these. Moments to quietly reflect what's just happened. As I slow down the world speeds up. Often I'm living in a whirl of activity, getting things done, ticking off one thing on the list and moving on to the next. When I was younger, and not much younger at that, I always looked ahead at the long list of expectations coming down the line. Sometimes that list inspired me, sometimes that list depressed me, but whenever I looked at it - emotions sprang to the fore. I now know that that list will exists for all my days. It isn't exceptional. I'm not exceptional. We all have lists that attach us to the future like boats to a dock. This morning, and it's not five thirty yet, I've been up ticking off the list. I've finished my section on a journal article I'm writing with others, I've rewritten the advertising for a conference coming up, I've responded two two requests for information. It's dark out and I'm busy. I'm like everyone else, too attached, too connected in, too available for too many hours of the day. But that's not what I wanted to say.
Sitting in that room in the quiet. I had the opportunity to look back, not far back, but a few days back. I considered what had happened there. The stories told, the lecture that unfolded, the training that was done. More importantly the questions that were asked, the concerns that were expressed, the direction that was being set. I could remember almost every staff face clearly after our nearly four days together. I could feel from them the wish and desire to do the very best they could as individuals and as part of a larger whole. They brought that passion in, and then they let me be part of their wish for better service. I could also picture individual moments with those with disabilities who were there. Some surprising themselves with their courage to participate, some laughing surprised at their own ability to learn. I sat there and looked not ahead, but at the recent past and at the 'now'. I need this as I get older. I need to know that this list of things to do is attached to the things that have been done. I need to be reminded that there is meaning in doing what needs to be done.
A younger me found meaning in checking off a task. The older me finds meaning in what that task meant. In that room, for those few moments quiet, I found fuel in the accomplishments of the past to pick up the list that will take me into the future and begin again.
So many of us get tired at the idea of what's yet to come. I wonder if we all just paused for a moment and looked back, we might find something miraculous - a future that isn't so far off.