~ “Water does not resist. Water flows.
When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress.
Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.
Water is patient.
Dripping water can wear away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water.”
You know that feeling of having survived an entire semester comfortably, and you’ve gone through 3/4 of your final exams when THAT sudden moment occurs in which you wearily wonder how on earth you’ll have the energy to do just that one more final exam? Believe it or not, teachers experience it, too… within the last two weeks of teaching. The following was written in THAT moment.
After a laboratory activity in which my students observed the changes to a fuse filament under increasing current, I, too, couldn’t help feeling like a fuse myself.
Like the current intensity – the demands, duties, obligations, increased tasks, last minute requests, and rising levels of anxiety from my surroundings, have surmounted to something like a power surge – and I am about to be burnt out. Like a fuse.
Oh, but let me remind you what the function of a fuse is. It serves the role of protection: a fuse is placed in a circuit to protect in the case of a power surge. To prevent the light bulbs from breaking or other such damage, the fuse sacrifices its own frail filament by heating up until it breaks, cutting off the current flow.
In a sense, a teacher is like a fuse. Except that unlike a fuse, a teacher is not replaceable.
It was that last thought that saved me; just as I was thinking “How much longer must I keep this up… I’m gonna burn out, like a fuse” – that it occurred to me I am so much more than that. I couldn’t be replaced, which meant I didn’t have the option to go out.
Which meant submitting to the idea that every teacher must eventually “burn out” is only true as long as one believes and, indeed, expects it.
Pressures likened to high voltages in the form of papers, deadlines, and even human beings – is that what it takes to burn me out? (Really, me?) If I am considering these as power surges, then that is only because I have my DC-current source all wrong.
Who better to keep you going,
keep you working,
keep you glowing brighter without dimming the circuit components around you,
except the All-Mighty?
This may appear to be a huge random leap in thinking, but this really happened. There I was thinking that a teacher is like a fuse, who burns herself out for the ‘protection’ of a younger generation – than God does not hesitate to make me laugh at myself.
All it takes is for I to take a step outside in the sunny humid weather outside, and become enthralled at the few sprinkles of cool water droplets falling from the sky… as though I am being told, “Chillax, kiddo. You’re no fuse on fire. If you were, this rain would’ve immediately put you out.”
And yet I still had that spark glowing brighter than ever in me, and all that the rain did was fill me with an indescribable sense of grateful joy.
Nope; God knew that I knew what I was getting myself into. And if He led me to it, He’ll lead me through it.
If I am to be compared to a protective device in a circuit, I would prefer being a breaker. At least those are reusable, resilient, as many times as it wills to be.
“I’ll take a dandelion any day over a rose. Now that’s a flower. It’s humble, hearty, keeps coming back no matter what you do to it. And it always blooms a brilliant yellow smile.” (Mornings in Jenin, p.209)
That’s the kind of teacher I want to be: humble, hearty, and keeps coming back.
I am like a dandelion. Not like a fuse.
And Allah knows Best.
As all I’d ever termed wondrous bliss unexpectedly died –
As my fantasy of a reality with destruction did collide –
My hopes shattered around me like glass in countless pieces,
Fragments suspended in mocking beauty as time freezes…
The clock hand ticks forward and it all crashes to the floor
My knees hit rock-bottom when I could take no more
All I now see is blackness where once there was color
Gone appears the light from the sun and its fervor…
I begin to walk away from the pond of shattered dreams
But the glass is in my clothes and cutting through my heart, it seems
Perhaps I am too close, the smoke is clouding my full view-
Glance up at the tower, instinctively know what to do…
Run up the steps; one, two,three hundred endless stairs
And I barely catch my breath, or have time to fill lungs with air –
Before the ground beneath my feet crumbles into sand
Loud thunder above me rumbles as I fall back down on land…
And I hit rock-bottom again
Thinking this must be the end
For surely no human can go through this pain
And still see rainbows through the rain…
The whole world seems gray and black tonight
With not a speck of pure, identifiable white in sight
Nothing is untouched, gone is everything –
Then how do I glimpse in that crack a thin white string?
Among the dirt, surely this uncorrupted clean string is not real
But just to verify the hopeless doubts, I reach out a hand to feel
And to my electric surprise, it’s most tangible indeed
I yank it out attached to a note, uncrumple it and read:
“Verily, with every hardship comes ease” [94:6]
That white thread…
“Verily, hope encourages and steers one towards patience; hope arises from having a good opinion of Allah; hope in Allah precludes the possibility of failure. But why should we be so confident that hope in Allah precludes the possibility of failure? If we were to study the characteristics of generous people, we would find that they take special care of those who think well enough of them to turn to for help. They will also tend to eschew those who think ill of them. What is important here is that they refrain from hurting the hopes of those who single them out for help. Then what will be the case regarding the Most Generous One, Whose kingdom is not decreased in the least when He gives even more than what the hopeful ones expected from Him in the first place?”
-[Excerpt from the book: ‘Don’t Be Sad’ , p.330]
If you’re a doer of good in the community and you’re always bombarded with criticisms and both positive and negative reactions (life has both types of people in it), it takes patience to not do how instinct tells you to react. Rather, self-control, character strength and especially humility are needed in such cases. It isn’t easy having to patiently listen to someone’s words that you already know isn’t going to be to your liking. Likewise, it takes self-restraint not to let that compliment get to your head and swell it up.
Speaking of doing good, how much good are you really doing?