Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Very Good Day

I once knew this old sober alcoholic. When I'd see him I'd ask, "How you doin' Bob?" Every single time he would reply, "It's a good day. I'm still breathing in and breathing out." He taught me a lot. I thought about him today.

A rare day at work, I got to go to another school to watch another teacher in action. Sitting in the back of the room like a student made me realize how hyper I was, but that is not the point. At this school, they have many developmentally disabled and severly handicapped students. The whole population is not like that, but they have special facilities and a large portion have serious physical disabilities.

One kid in the class I was observing just looked "off" as far as his legs go. He couldn't touch the ground with his feet while sitting in the chair. When he walked he couldn't help but tiptoe and he had to grab onto things, like pushing his chair across the room, and, at recess, he had a special walker thing. He was the sweetest kid though. When the timer went off on a math facts quiz and the girl next to him said, "Oh, man, I didn't finish!" He looked and said, "You only had three left. That's great."

On the wall there were these writing projects and one part said, "What I want to be when I grow up." All the kids had careers. This little guy simply wrote: "a dad."

When we talked to the teacher about her teaching and had an opportunity to "download" about our day, we asked about that boy. Turns out he has a degenerative and very severe condition and he is dying. She told us how he is just becoming more lethargic. In short, "It's so sad because he won't become a dad." The only one who put dad and he won't be one.

Then, I started looking around and the halls were filled with similiar children. Students strapped to mechanisms, a boy stuck going through a door because his wheel was lodged on the jam, kids that needed help going to the bathroom and they were in third grade. All of them smiling. Then it hit me: "What the hell is wrong with you Doah?" You're breathing in and breathing out today. Why do you ever get negative or selfish? I thought about my four children at home and how they can walk normal. Well, it was a very good day.

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Anonymous John said...

I loved this post, Doah. I found myself right there with you, watching the day unfold. Hearing the grace in this kid's words. Feeling his desire. I choked up as I realized his ambition may not be realized.

I've been thinking this week about "contentment" and related concepts like happiness and joy. I found myself, reading your blog, thinking of reasons to be content and happy. I'm not strapped to a mechanism. I've already lived to be a dad.

But then I noticed something you wrote: That even those who were strapped to these mechanisms had reasons for joy. And all the times I've said or heard said things like: "At least I have health" came to mind. But what about those who don't? Have they no reasons for contentment and joy? Of course they do!

It's like I've set the bar for reasons to be content and happy way down low: I'm healthy, my kids are healthy. But even those who aren't have reasons for joy and contentment and happiness. Maybe joy comes even more fundamental to life than physical health. Maybe it's even deeper in our nature than the ability to walk or to survive childhood.

Thanks for provoking my thoughts ...

9:34 AM  
Blogger Doah said...

John, I think you hit upon something very important: I've set the bar too low also. Even my post was implying, "I'm joyful because I'm not those kids and my children are not like that." In reality, this reminds me of what your brother, Charles, spoke about at Canyon Hills in December, mainly, "The reason for our joy" which is Jesus. So, yea, joy is more fundamental than physical health. I think of people I know that have suffered greatly like say Julie H. and how she has hung onto her joy in Christ though times when she has no great health. You've challenged me! Thanks for the comment.

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