Thursday, December 5, 2013

Somethin' Worth Leaving Behind

Now that I'm starting to see the light at the end of the graduate school final exams and papers tunnel, I feel like I can write a bit.
On Monday, I subbed in a fifth-grade classroom. I don't usually like to do elementary school. This is gonna sound horrible, but it just takes so much effort! I'm trained in English first, then secondary education. So I don't know much about lunch choices and moving clothespins up and down a behavior chart and I'm especially bad at fractions ( I can't do elementary school math, don't judge me!).
So on Monday I went in, did the best I could with the fifth grade morning routine, and made it through the first few parts without having to do too much (again, I know I sound horrible, but it's finals week and I was basically half dead from Thanksgiving break too). 
When we got to the Language Arts portion of the day, the lesson plans said that the kids had already read this story called "Leonardo's Horse," and they were just supposed to answer the questions about it.  Well, we got out the reading books and they said they'd never read the story. So I would have to read it with them, and I hoped I had enough energy to properly do so.
As soon as I opened the book, I went into high school English teacher mode somehow, asking the children pre-reading questions and giving them background knowledge on Leonardo da Vinci (the story was about him).
The kids took turns reading out loud and we read about how Leonardo da Vinci was basically a jack of all trades and had many skills and talents, but at the end of his life, despite all of his accomplishments, he felt deeply unfulfilled.  He died a depressed old man with a beard down to his waist, and left behind journal entries about how he felt he had wasted his life because he never finished sculpting an iron horse for one of the rulers that had requested one.
It was very sad.
As we read, I thought about the Lee Ann Womack song "Something Worth Leaving Behind."
In the first lines, she says,
"Hey Mona Lisa, who was Leonardo?
Was he Andy Warhol?
Were you Marilyn Monroe?"
The chorus goes:
"I may not go down in history, I just want someone to remember me...
If I will love then I will find that I have touched another life
And that's something worth leavin' behind"
Basically the song is about what famous people have left behind and how it doesn't amount to much compared to loving people. It talks about Midas and his golden touch and how "all that shiny stuff someday's gonna turn to dust."
So of course I got to thinking about what I value and hold as important right now. With it being exam time, there's a lot of pressure to make good grades. With it being Christmas, there's pressure to buy good gifts for people. There's pressure coming at me from all directions in many different ways. This is an overwhelming time of year, and I get really down if I don't have time to do all of the things I wanna do. 
But when you sit back and think about it, the only thing that's gonna last is love. God sent love down to us in the purest form and that's why we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is important. Family is important. Friends are important. Loving on these people at Christmas is important.
In ten years it won't matter that I got a 70 on a paper. Who cares? I just want to focus on what is important so that I'll never write in my journal, "I wasted my years," like Leonardo da Vinci did.
(I'm telling myself all this, too, because lately I've been such a perfectionist and so big on "seizing the day" and accomplishing things on my to-do list that I get REALLY upset when I don't do everything or do everything perfectly. And I get super upset when I don't have time to blog, because I feel like this is what I'm leaving behind - my writing.)
But back to Leonardo.
Why did he feel like he had wasted his years? He created the world's most recognized painting - the Mona Lisa. He left that painting behind, along with a whole plethora of creations, but still felt like he had done nothing with his life. Why?
Who knows. But it seems to me like he spent his whole life trying so hard to leave a lasting impact in a material way that when he didn't accomplish his biggest project, it devastated him. 
I feel like sometimes we feel like we need to go to school to get a good job, and we need to get a good job to provide a good life for our family, and we need to make more money to keep up with everyone else, and we have to have the right kinda car and right kinda house and get married and have babies at a certain time to be fulfilled but GUESS WHAT? None of that really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Loving people matters. Serving the Lord matters.
I'm pretty much 100% positive if you do those things and not worry so much about accomplishments, you won't end up dying with regrets or a void in your heart.

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