When I looked out the window of my apartment this morning and saw that there was a torrential downpour occurring just as I was about to walk to the Metro I decided there were two ways I could approach the situation. Approach 1–I could leave feeling annoyed that I would have to walk in the rain and wishing that I could just stay home curled up on my couch. Approach 2–I could leave with the excitement of a child in a rain storm. I chose approach 2 and decided to spend the walk being excited about the fact that I was getting to carry a “brella” (as the toddlers at my school call them) and to walk right through every big puddle in my rain boots rather than carefully walking around them. While this might sound crazy to you it actually made my walk much more fun. I found myself looking for puddles and I noticed the drips coming off the edge of the umbrella. I felt that same thrill of discovery that I remembered from being a kid when I turned the corner to walk down the small hill and saw a mini rushing river running along the curb and then I splashed my way right through it. I listened to the sound of the rain pounding on the top of the umbrella and noticed that the birds were all still singing right through the rain. Walking to the Metro became an adventure rather than a chore. Walking to the Metro became an experience rather than something to simply get over with.
The rain today has reminded me that as adults we too often get bogged down in the negativity of real life. This being an adult thing that looked so good to us as kids can, in reality, be draining and overwhelming. It is so easy to just slog through life and to see things like pouring rain as negatives rather than as experiences. It reminded me that the reason children delight in things like walking in the rain is that they see them as an experience and have no preconceived notions of what that experience will be like–it is just another of life’s adventures. It reminded me that attitude is everything–the experience becomes what you think it will be in so many cases.
Here at SEEC I get to watch teachers curate experiences that create life adventures for children every day. I see the joy at the little things all day long. I hear the exclamations of “It’s a parade!” from the twos class when they look at the window and see what in reality is just a huge group of middle school students coming to the museum. I have conversations like the one with three-year-old Charlie when he tells me “I REALLY love school.” I see the joy in watching the classroom caterpillars suddenly become butterflies and in seeing stalagmites at the gem hall and watching them grow on a video on the tablet. I see the kindness as four-year-olds identify and take photos of how their friends are really superheroes because of their kind acts toward others. I see the excitement as a classroom heads to a museum, yelling “GOODBYE!!” at the top of their lungs to me as they walk by my office. I live in moments of joy every day but that joy can be too easily forgotten in my own life.
At our school this year we are making a conscious effort to appreciate these little moments of joy. Every classroom and every admin office has a jar labeled “Moments of Joy” where we collect stories of those moments that make up a day for a child. I believe it helps keep us focused on the wonder. And I discover that when I am feeling stressed actively watching for a story to add to my jar gives my day a whole new focus. Life can be hard and overwhelming some days and it isn’t possible to always see the joy—some days just really stink. But if we all truly tried harder to say nice things to each other, to approach as many experiences as possible with a positive outlook, and to look for the joy and wonder in our days the world just might be less hard and overwhelming for all of us. Go walk in the rain and look for that mini river flowing along the curb to splash in.