I ratcheted my shoes and then punched the right code on the keypad.
A few seconds later I was left trapped between the dark and the garage door I had just closed.
The only light I now had came from the lamp sitting on my bicycle handlebars. It’s a good light, and it took some time to find it, but in the dark it remained a narrow beacon that only lit what it was pointed at.
It was another typical early morning bicycle ride, except for the sound coming from the woods behind my house – a squirrel, sure a squirrel I reassured myself.
Let me now try to convince you that sounds are amplified in the dark.
What sounds like a bear walking toward one’s tent at 1 a.m. is usually just the wind tumbling a leaf in the woods. What convinces you is a madman with knife in hand lumbering toward you at 3 am are raindrops falling from the leaves above and hitting different surfaces in a very alarmingly rhythmic way.
It was a squirrel, sure a squirrel.
What came next happened quickly.
The noise of jumping or running or leaping or racing or catapulting was obvious and it was now coming toward me.
It was intentional.
And it was fast.
I was sure of it because what was quiet a moment ago was definitely getting louder by the quarter second.
I mentioned to you it was dark right?
What happened next is far more interesting than what I’ve mentioned to you so far because this is when I did what I have never done in my 46 previous years of life.
Before I really grasped what I was doing, as whatever it was came closer, I had raised my bicycle in the air in front of me (in the direction of what sounded like a Sasquatch attack) and let out a god-awful noise / grunt / holler / scream.
This was not a planned scream of terror – but a very natural scream of terror.
No doubt it was spurned on by the tingling of hairs and what I will admit to you, without bravado, was fear.
Thinking back, my very manly scream was obviously a challenge to whatever was coming at me – I would not so easily be taken or eaten.
Out of the dark my now swinging handlebar light, which if you remember was above my head, captured for a moment a deer running toward me and then past me. It then took an impressive hard left in front of my neighbor’s yard and was as quickly gone as it had come into my early morning life.
I put my bike back down, wondered if anyone had seen my very manly act and genuine scream, and laughed to myself. I think I even talked to myself for a few seconds. No doubt trying to regain some composure and summoning up the courage to get on the bicycle to head down the dark street.
Although this happened some months ago now, it reminds me of how we react to others or to situations in our lives.
- Question before we answer?
- Argue before listening?
- Expect others to do what we would do?
- Wait before saying hello?
- Interrupt others while they share?
- Assume things about others?
- Allow ourselves to be overshadowed by others?
- Overshadow everyone else?
And why worry or even think about any of this?
I believe that…
- We deserve to listen to others.
- We deserve to ask good questions.
- We deserve to be heard.
- They deserve to tell you their story before we even begin to judge them. And when we judge, we assume that they have little to nothing worthy of imparting to us.
- Others deserve to be who they are, regardless if that pleases us.
- Those we come in contact with deserve the time to share an idea.
- Others deserve to be heard too.
- And others deserve to be welcomed.
What is your autopilot setting? How do you react to others?
For me, I am certainly quick to interject. In the classroom rush to get to the end of my lesson, I too quickly overshadow what might be an excellent story a student wants to share with their class. In my desire to squash unruly behavior, I certainly think the worst before waiting to see what good will come from an action.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the classroom. Perhaps, though, it’s how I have learned to react from past experiences. These reactions being both successful as well as continued bad habits that impede my success at the front of the room.
And most importantly, is this reaction how we want to continue to be seen and treat those around you?
I think it’s a valuable lesson for not just our students, but for us to reflect upon as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you have imparted to your students the lesson of reacting to others around them. Please take a moment and share in the comments section.