July 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye

For months I've purged the innards of my Lawrence office. Each time the recycling bin is emptied, I throw in more paper. It's a cleansing process (with occasional nostalgia). But outwardly my office didn't change--until last week. In just 20 short minutes, Mark and I dismantled the feng shui I had carefully cultivated. The lamps, throws, photographs, water fountain, rugs--all purposeful choices to create a relaxed, living-room feel--were packed in mere minutes. And I felt verklempt. I took a moment to process the change and grieve the space. This space that made students feel safe; this space that witnessed much learning--about statistics and life. It was an unexpected wave of emotion. And then it passed. (Of course, spaces can be cultivated throughout our lives in many different environments.) 

Initially my sadness about leaving Lawrence focused on students. I care deeply about the students--not just as learners, but as people. Then the sadness extended to my amazing colleagues. Yet I've had closure in these areas--end-of-year parties filled with both emotion and celebration. I thought I'd processed it all. But when I left my office for good, Keith and Mike--the custodians in my building--expressed sadness. They told me how much they'd miss me ("miss seeing my smiling face"). Indeed, I'll  miss not only my students and my colleagues. I'll miss the custodians, administrative assistants, admissions counselors, career advisors, and on down the line. Lawrence is a special community. I feel blessed to have touched many different lives and to have them touch me back. Saying goodbye was a great lesson in saying hello. It made me realize the importance of everyday interactions--a smile, a patient ear, an act of kindness. These simple, yet intentional actions build community. And I'll carry that with me wherever I go. Whether for a friend, coworker, stranger, or myself, a genuine smile goes a long way; it has a ripple effect.

1 comment:

  1. Sending you a smile and really curious to read about the new doors that you will open in the next couple of months. Wishing you a splendid summer! Warm hug