Mindful

Shattered

This is my phone.

Was my phone.

During a drive to school, where a thousand things awaited me, I realized I didn’t have it. Pulled over. Searched my bags.

No phone.

—Where had I last seen it?

Charging. That’s right, I remembered plugging it back up for a full charge to get through the day.

Turned around, went back home.

Nope. Not there.

I finally used the Find My Phone app on my iPad and within seconds, my phone was revealed to be about a quarter mile away, in the middle of the road.

Because — I have no recollection of this, it’s just obvious — as I loaded bags, notebooks, stacks of paper into my car that morning, my mind off and running miles ahead in a dozen directions, I made the unconscious, fateful decision to put the phone on the trunk.

I drove to said location and there it was, facedown on the pavement, shattered, tiny shards of glass pricking my fingers on retrieval.

At the moment, the greater marvel to me wasn’t the modern magic of pinpointing the exact location of my lost phone (while trying to imagine the extreme unsettledness of never finding it), or that I was so thoughtless (more than a little alarming). I marveled instead that the phone held onto the car that long before sliding off. Astonishing.

It was inoperable. Dark screen with an occasional flickering of gridded lights that grew weaker and weaker, like a monitor for a little dying creature.

So I set about the repair process — in this case, replacement — which is costly both in dollars and in time, meaning that my one second of not being mindful diverted valuable time and energy from the day and the important things I needed to do. The phone tethers me to my sons, wherever they are. To my husband, still recovering from heart surgery, in case he should need me. To my colleagues, who will text with questions or to ask me to come to their classrooms. The phone is an effective lifeline to the people who matter most to me.

It dawned on me somewhere during this ordeal that I held a metaphor in my hands: Relationships.

I thought about the cost of not being mindful in relationships. How they can get so far off track if we aren’t paying attention. How hard it is to get back to a good place when this happens, if we are not ever-mindful of words, actions, signals, choices. I thought about all the emphasis on relationships in education, usually in the context of teachers building relationships with students to help them thrive as learners. But even more important are the relationships between the adults in the building; if there isn’t collegiality, professional trust, and a true spirit of collaboration, all relationships suffer and the children pay the price.

Mindful. Such a proactive word. A few seconds of investment to avoid the time, energy, and costliness of repair, before things get off track and slide away.

Before relationships shatter.

14 thoughts on “Mindful

    • It IS a hard metaphor; the realization of it struck me deeply. The phone is now replaced and you can bet I won’t set it down on my car again! Relationships (and people) are so complex, subject to so many factors … yet simple mindfulness goes so far in keeping them healthy and strong. No small task in this day of distractions and demands…. I so appreciate your thoughts 🙂

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  1. When I saw the picture, I thought you were going to write about that angel that appeared in your shattered phone. Do you see it? Floating there in the dark shadows? I know how devastated I would be if this had happened to me. And it so very well could as I rush off with a million things on my mind in the morning. This angel is saying you are blessed. You have love in your life. A phone can be replaced.

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    • An angel -! I had not seen it! But of course you would, with your artist’s eyes and poet’s heart. I see it now and am wondering just how many ways I could write about THAT. May attempt… and how beautifully you interpreted the angel’s appearing. Blessings and love — oh yes, how grateful I am. Bless you, Margaret.

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    • All our small moments add up to a lifetime … I can just imagine those sixth graders as they begin searching for deeper connections and meanings in their moments. The power of writing. 🙂 Joy to you and your writers and thank you for these words, Adrienne.

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  2. Oh wow, there’s a lot here that resonates. In fact, reading the final lines I felt a little chill, a reminder reaction saying “Hey, this is for you. Listen up!” So thank you for nudging me to consider the details of those words, thoughts and choices and how they can impact the relationships that hold me upright.

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  3. I love this post, but am sorry about your phone. I hope you are soon able to find a new “tether” to all those who matter most to you. Your story reminded me of a being stopped for speeding on the road I live by a policeman very near our elementary school’s dismissal time. My mind was elsewhere. I was going 11 miles over the speed limit of 25. Luckily, I got off with a warning. But, the whole incident reminded me of how important it is to be present. I might have to write about this now. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  4. What a metaphor! I thought the ending would be about slowing down but you took me to another place with the relationship metaphor. “if there isn’t collegiality, professional trust, and a true spirit of collaboration, all relationships suffer and the children pay the price” – this line is so powerful. I always believe that my colleagues are my classmates and our school is our classroom and we have to treat each other with the same respect we expect of kids. We have to work WITH each other as teach and expect of children. Somehow, the older we are, the harder this can be. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Respect and support are mutual; relationships cannot endure without them. I heard a comment once (wish I could remember it exactly) that in the workplace there are congenial relationships but not always collegial ones – vast difference in regard to the level of investment, collective responsibility, and transformative power. I so appreciate your thoughts!

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  5. Your post struck a nerve with me this morning. There is always an undercurrent of tension on my campus, for various reasons. Even when it doesn’t directly affect me, I can feel it underfoot, and it can be draining. I will ponder ways to move beyond it–or swim above it, to stick with the metaphor– today.

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