My wife skydives because she finds it relaxing. Well, maybe “relaxing” isn’t quite the right word, but something close to it. She says that when you intentionally climb out of an airplane at 12,000 feet and then intentionally let gravity pull you toward Earth at well over 100 miles per hour, any extraneous thoughts evaporate. For the duration of the freefall there is just no space in your head for thoughts of job or family or politics or money or really anything. The world shrinks to the immediate concerns of altitude, speed, and landing safely. Once the mechanics of skydiving become more, well…mechanical, there is a bit of room in your consciousness for looking around at how beautiful things are. The towering clouds, the setting sun, the curve of the planet can come in and leave an indelible image on your retina the way a sudden light can in the dark night.
And once you land, the concerns keep their distance for a while as the beauty and the rush remain. In this way, skydiving is relaxing.
And in a similar way, working with three-year olds is relaxing. I have just this week started teaching a class of three-year old boys and girls. Before I started, I had been out of work since last school year concluded at the end of June. Two full months without work left my brain nothing but space for all my insecurities, doubts, and dissatisfactions to roam around in, trampling any good that might be right in front of me.
There is nothing like a room full of 3 year olds to make a person quickly forget anything that might be on his mind. While Sam raises the toy drill to “remind” Jessie (on her head) that she should share, my career doubts just get in the way of doing what I need to do. For three hours I have to put myself last. And that is turning out to be a good thing. Friday was the most difficult day at work I have had in years, and it was alright. I came away feeling like I helped a few kids learn a few things. It was also good to realize that I have a lot to learn about managing three-year olds. It will give me something to do with my mind.