Sunday, October 7, 2012

An Open Letter to Bobby McFerrin

Dear Mr. McFerrin -

I know that you do not like to be measured by your 1988 hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy." I know you are so much more than that song; in fact, I have some of your ingenious and Grammy-winning work on my iPod. You are creative, and crafty, and fascinating as all get-out. So I must apologize, then, for bringing it up.

But truly, as trite and over-simplistic as it sounds, as overdone as it was (is?), the sentiment in that song wraps up exactly how I'm feeling so far this school year. Somehow, this is a new approach for me. I've always striven to keep perspective, of course, but now I am just letting things be. This is not to say that I am allowing things to happen to me. I am still making things happen. But I am seeing everything - the five goals, especially - as all they are: things. Things that will get done. Things that will happen. Things that matter, yes, okay, but that matter not so much as to worry about them. I'd much rather "worry" about old friends and colleagues battling much bigger things. I'd much rather "worry" about women's rights, and the environment, and the economy. And I'm not sure that "worry" is even the right word, after all.

Here's the question I've been asking myself lately: "What will I think of this worrisome thing in five hours? Five months? Five years?" At the end of that longitudinal Worry Scale, only loved ones and future generations and the Earth make it to five years and beyond. Not my goals for 2012-13. Not my upcoming observations and evaluations. These things are important, certainly. Maybe even really important, as they will inform my work this year and next. I want to be a better teacher and I want my students to do well - that's a given, right? I'm not sure how worrying fits into that plan. Doing does. Accepting does. Trying does. Learning does. Growing does.

Bobby, I'm taking your rhyme-y words to heart these days: "In every life we have some trouble. When you worry, you make it double." Or quintuple. So I'm putting a smile on my face, as you suggested. I won't be bringing anybody down anytime soon.

Thanks for the reminder, sir.

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