Recently I have noticed a recurring theme that has some connection to what went down yesterday. Trends like this are hard to notice at first and, even after picking up the pattern, are not always easy to accept.
About ten years ago, I was at a Christmas party and we did some caroling. Later, I was chatting with some other guests. Upon hearing my voice, one young lady said, “Hey, you were behind me when we were singing. I recognize your voice.” Someone finding my voice distinctive at an event involving singing was a little disconcerting because – although not overly shy about it – I don’t think I’m a particularly good singer. You can imagine my surprise when she continued by telling me that my voice was very soothing.
A couple years later, the topic came up again, slightly altered. We are told that children are important, and I hold this dear; for awhile I was working in childcare at a church to make sure the kids were rested, relaxed, fed, clean, and a little educated. Most of the time I was working with toddlers in the 10 to 15 month range, but spent time with ages from infant to kindergarten. One evening, a couple of the ladies with whom I regularly worked commented on how they noticed a distinct calmness and orderliness to the children’s behavior when I was present. Not knowing what things are like when I’m gone, this also surprised me a bit.
We have a few young adults in my calligraphy class, very much my juniors, but it is predominantly elementary and junior high students. Occasionally they can be a little distracted from their work, but I picture them as reasonably dedicated for their age. A year or so ago, when it was just me and my teacher, she talked to me about how the concentration level in the room is so pronounced when I am present. Knowing this makes me feel even more guilty when I skip class.
At the beginning of February I returned to my normal schedule. At one of my favorite schools, I finished teaching the first grade and talked to the teacher about how well her students were doing. She was prompted to immediately assure me that the children focused and calmed down whenever I show up. This is somewhat ironic, because they usually bounce around (like little Brownian particles) and yell out my name when I stick my head in the room.
Perhaps the best, recent story is how, when I asked my fiancé to be my girlfriend in July, she explained how I made her feel very calm and peaceful. Just hearing that gives me great joy and I hope to continue that influence for decades to come.
So, allegedly I spread calm with my presence. While I would like to believe that, I also recall several counter-examples. A few of my classes are just crazy, and I can’t imagine them being even more so when I’m not there. Some people I’ve met in Japan seem to be agitated merely by my presence. I guess it’s good that I notice these, so I don’t let the compliments go to my head; although, if that’s how I’m remembered, I won’t be sad.