This weekend, a good friend accompanied me on my daily walk. We chatted, enjoying the sunshine and spring’s unfolding. Each time I walk this trail, there’s something new to see. Walking with my friend made that more apparent as he pointed out sites I’d never noticed.
The walk had me thinking, early in my career as an English teacher, tests involved essay questions. Many teachers didn’t like them, “They take too long to grade.” True, they did take longer. They also presented an opportunity to see how students thought, how they arrived at an answer. Rarely was a zero given as the essay provided an understanding of the student’s process. I miss the essay answers in today’s discussions. When the dialogue is extended, questions unearth views I never knew, and my view expands. It doesn’t mean I agree, but I understand how the individual reached that view.
As a high school dean, I frequently had to handle altercations among students. I’d bring the students into my office one at a time to determine what happened. I’d start with a question, “Do you know why you’re here?” Most of the time the answer was yes. “Can you tell me what happened?” I’d listen, take notes, thank them, and have them exchange places with whomever was in the hall. I’d follow the same protocol with the second or third student and listen to the next story. Rarely did the stories coincide. Then, I’d bring them together. Through questions and listening, I’d work to guide them to see the event with new eyes to reframe what happened. Sometimes it worked, and other times emotions, prejudices and beliefs prevented movement.
How we are in the world is mirrored to us through the people in our lives, through responses to our actions, and in the mirror we stare into every morning. A younger me thought, “The older I get, the more I know.” The older me reflects, “The older I get, the larger the world becomes and the more there is to know.” I love how others, whether on a walk or just in conversation, open new vistas and expand my vision. What is life mirroring for you?