Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Simple Gesture

As a teacher, I try very hard to be aware of how I may influence my students in what, how or even why I say what I say to them, whether directly in the lesson, in trying to correct their behavior or just in even how I interact with them.

As ordinary citizens, we are often unaware of the influence we have on others.

I recently attended a retirement luncheon for a friend and colleague, "Mary". During her remarks, she came to tell the story of how she ultimately made the decision to accept a position at my school. It seems the principal at that time obtained her phone number, a personal reference and began to call my colleague asking to interview her for a position. "Mary" was undecided, kept giving polite excuses and was not really looking to change schools at that time. After four unsuccessful attempts at dissuading the principal, "Mary" decided to actually meet her, officially decline the offer and maybe that would stop the phone calls. So, she agreed to an interview. Following the interview, she was taken on a tour of the campus where she met some of the other staff members. When she met one staff member in particular, "Edie", she greeted "Mary" warmly, placing her hand on "Mary's" arm in a warm, welcoming way. It was that simple gesture of a personal touch of warmth and kindness that influenced "Mary" into accepting the position. "Mary" is retiring from teaching after twenty-eight years, seventeen at my school. I wish her well on her new journey.

After my ex left, I was floundering and struggling for some footing to get to know myself again. I went to a meditation group for about six months. Over the course of the class, a few of us became regulars while others attended once or twice. One of the other regulars was another single gay man, "Robert," who came off bitter, defensive, cantankerous and controlling. He had a very hard edge to him. During the sessions, I would share the pain of my divorce, the joy of meeting "Michael," the questions and confusion of where that relationship may be going and the signals he may have been sending me. Over the course of  the sessions, "Robert" loosened up, lost most of his edge, his bitterness melted (somewhat) and he later shared that while the meditation had a lot to do with his opening up, it was my sharing my willingness to be vulnerable with "Michael" so soon after being hurt after my divorce, and my "don't play games with me" attitude that also had a big influence on him. I had no idea he was listening that attentively to me.

As a writer, I am beginning to realize the influence I may have.

I am overwhelmed by the places this blog is being read. It humbles me to know that someone on every continent but one has read my words. Some of my friends have told me how these words have helped them in their own journeys. And I can only hope that this simple gesture of me sharing my journey out of the pain of my divorce and into the joy of rediscovering myself is somehow helping someone else out there somewhere; someone I may never know.


  1. A simple gesture can go a LONG way! Great one.

    1. That's so true, and often we might not even realize how we may have affected someone.