Serenity, now

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Namaste, by Nomadic Lass on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

It wasn’t a very serene day at work today. The pace seems to be picking up hourly and I am suddenly feeling like I’ll need to figure out what to say no to. After only two weeks on the job it’s strange to be at that point already.

I taught a class this morning I wasn’t extremely well-prepared to teach. A colleague observed me and she probably wasn’t too amused, particularly since I’m taking over responsibility for this department and she’s the one who designed the class in the first place. She was kind enough to step in for a few minutes and save my ass, for which I was grateful. But it was also a good wakeup call for me.

On the plus side, I haven’t lost my speaking skills, and am still able to engage with a classroom full of students in a lively way. That is a relief.

I spent the afternoon preparing for a class I’ll teach on Monday afternoon. I am only about a third done with the prep. I was quite stressed about it when I got on the train home.

The train ride home is pretty magical, though. I always get a seat, which affords me nearly an hour of time to separate from work, doze or read or listen to music, enjoy the limbo of being in between work and home.

Tonight I was dismayed at first when a man boarded and proceeded to spread himself out across three seats next to me – he was quite large, and hyperventilating. Once he caught his breath he started sniffling. This week on the train I keep winding up next to coughers or sneezers. Now a sniffler.

In the moment where I was deciding to either be annoyed with the sniffling or  else let it go, I remembered my kids speaking about chesed (“kindness” in Hebrew, a recent focus at school). So I chose a third way – to be kind. I handed the sniffling man my last tissue. He thanked me.

Then I wondered what else I could do to show chesed. J was home with the kids, and he had made a delicious dinner and ferried the kids back from a sleepover and a dozen other things.

Often when I walk in the door I am instantly angry or stressed out about the chaos in our home (slightly mitigated by the Lego organization scheme, but not entirely). I am grouchy and uncooperative. It’s almost like I’m back on the steroids.

So tonight, sitting on the train home, I decided things would go otherwise. I decided I would get home and immediately find out what still needed doing, and do it. I’m embarrassed that I needed to make such a conscious attempt to be helpful. But it kept me busy, and kept me from getting angry at J or the kids or the clutter.

I didn’t know the NYC subway could bring about such a meditative state, but I sure am grateful. (At least, until the next time the local goes express or the express local.)

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