8/23/12

Cleaning out my closet as metaphor for self-reflection

                         All this week I have been busy in my new classroom, getting it all ready for a wonderful new year teaching elementary art, this year in Spanish; I cannot wait to begin. This ended up being a huge undertaking for me, for the person who occupied the classroom before me had not been very organized in 'closing out' the room before summer; all of this is very normal in transitions within the teaching world mind you. Early on, it became clear that I would have to actually empty all the storage spaces (which are many), look over everything, and decide on what needed to go and what needed to stay. For a split second,  I actually hesitated taking this daunting route, but regardless of its enormity I knew it was the route to take if I truly wanted genuine organization. Two afternoons, and a raging backache later, I am done with all the major organizing and I could be more proud of myself for having tackled the 'monster'.  Although there is still lots to do, I know where everything is now and that feels amazing.

                         In looking at this situation with these closets and the amazing feeling I now enjoy having done the physically demanding and tedious work to get them gutted and sorted reminded me of the inner reflecting that's necessary to become who we truly were meant to be in this world. What a wonderful metaphor for true healing this was; so much that I sat right up to write about it at 4am. The motion of taking out each item in that closet and truly assessing its importance and relevance to my classroom simulates the act of self-reflection. I have discovered in my observations of people that when we have had a painful past, we deal with them in one of three ways, yet only one way is truly healing.

                           Some people deal with past hurts by using it as an excuse to everything they do or don't do. They have allowed the narrative of their painful past to pop-up when triggered and define and literally infect all their relationships and interactions. These are often very heavy, unpredictable, and difficult people. Then, there are the ones who have chosen to do quite the opposite, the ones who have chosen to utterly ignore their past narrative and continue their lives as if the painful experiences never existed at all. These people operate quite well in the world 99% of the time. The only issue I see with this approach is that it simulates a closet full of junk where one has thrown away the key. Having been this second way initially, I know it's not a 'forever' solution. What ends up happening, and this happened to me, is that huge, life-changing moments such as births, deaths and even marriage can often trigger these closets to open wide and force you deal with the issues hidden inside.  Last, and this is where I aim to stay, there are people that need to process and reflect on the past in order to be free of it and move forward in their lives. I am convinced that in order to have a joyful and fulfilling life one must take out each item in that 'closet' and look at it, assess it's value.  Interestingly, I have found that I am often drawn to friends and people in general who also have this self-reflective mechanism embedded in their lives.  Where do you fall?

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