Tuesday, March 10, 2020

We took another sunrise walk this morning in Noank, up and down its hills along Fisher’s Island Sound. Around us was a silence that seemed almost sacred at that hour, and the colors in the early sky seemed silent as well. We walked with the peacefulness of people who know how blessed they are to be almost 80 years old and still walking with reasonable spryness – and how blessed to be in such a sweet place for the walk. (Below are some photos from our walk, with a haiku poem for each.)

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            There are times when everything seems to be a concealed blessing – even the boy in my class years ago who couldn’t seem to focus his attention on anything related to English. Usually this lad’s attention was everywhere but on what we were doing in class, but sometimes, strangely enough, I sensed that his lack of concentration would be helpful, in the long run, to both him and me. Instead of fretting about it, I often felt surprisingly positive about what it meant for both of us. For the boy, his inattentiveness would – because I would remind him about it now and again – give him something specific to work on throughout the year. It was another skill, like trapping the ball in soccer, that he could take pride in perfecting as the weeks passed. When I occasionally congratulated him after class for being attentive, he would, I hoped, have a feeling of satisfaction that he was able to accomplish a difficult feat – a feeling that would be unavailable to him were it not for his lifelong problem of inattentiveness. As for me, my student’s lack of focus was a blessing in the form of a wake-up call to remember that, frankly, 8th grade English class can be mind-numbing and utterly forgettable. No matter how carefully I planned my lessons, no matter how many exciting twists I tried to put into them, the activities of my class were often no more exciting to a teenager than activities in an empty desert. This boy may have had an unusual problem with inattentiveness, but he may also simply have been bored to death by my teaching style. A blessing of a wake-up call for Mr. Salsich: “There are a zillion things more thrilling than your English class!”

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