By Geoffrey Geddes
We experience life in the flow of moments; we learn about life, and ourselves, in the reflective flashes that occur during and after those moments. Reflection often occurs spontaneously, of course. But it helps to reflect purposely – to remember not to forget to pay attention to life’s lessons.
I’m sitting here in a tiny, non-smoking hotel room that stinks of stale smoke, waiting to “check in” for my first semi-annual graduate conference in San Francisco. My hope: to complete a second master’s degree that will qualify me for governmental permission to help fellow psycho-sufferers. If all goes as planned, I will soon hang a second-career shingle and invite my troubled brethren and sisteren to sit a spell and take a breath and set their load down for a bit.
As is often the case, I’m alone in my room, letting the droning T.V. soothe my vague angst. Some would go down to the bar and order a beer; some would explore the bay area during the 3 hours before check-in. Me? I hide.
But I also write, and reflect, and learn. I’m okay – a bit excited, a bit nervous, and more than a bit hopeful. I’m in the right place. I make my choices from a stronger place now – from a calmer, stronger place. My choices arise from positive visions of suitability and contribution, rather than from fear and shame. My desperation has fallen away, replaced by … what? Appreciation, I think.
Evidence of my okayness: I introduce myself now. At the airport, I witnessed a mom (I could tell she was a mom by her gentle but firm caretaker disposition) inquire about the shuttle to the Westin. There we were, sitting together waiting for the Westin shuttle. “Excuse me,” says I, “are you going to the Westin for the Saybrook conference?” “Why yes,” says she, “I am. You?” “Why yes.” A bit more chatting, and Mona and I are buds.
I’m downright sociable, I tell ya.
Interlude of gratitude: I am so very grateful for my family. I owe so much of my strength and so much of my joy to their love.
Time to check in…
As is often the case, the build-up belied the pay-off. “Hi, I’m Geoffrey.” “Hi, Geoffrey, I’m Robert (conference coordinator), this is Anthony (badge hander-outer) and Clint (fellow student). Here’s your schedule, here’s your badge, see you in the morning for breakfast and orientation.”
As is often the case, I smile at humanity. I also smile because I’m happy, finally, to count myself among this maddening, defective, but occasionally endearing species – a nice lesson to catch between moments.