My Leap List

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Gift of Time

     Today I found out about "The Good Samaritan Experiment."  In the study researchers tried to determine why people would pass someone in need without stopping to help.  I was shocked to find out that the overwhelming reason in the study was time.  When people were in a hurry, only 1 in 10 people was willing to stop and help the person in need.  When people were not in a hurry, 2/3 of the people stopped to help.  This baffles me.  I can't imagine what would put me in such a hurry that I wouldn't stop and help.  I have seen many stories lately where people do the same thing - step over people lying in distress on the street or in the nursing home or the floor of the store.  It helps explain why people are willing to trample someone in their rush to get the best deal on the Black Friday sale.  Most of us would like to think we are different than everyone else.  We would be the one person that would stop.
     I like to think the same thing, but I realize that I am the other nine people in a million small moments every day.  When I feel stressed and someone opens my door to ask me a question, I can feel myself grimacing without meaning to.  I cut people off in mid-sentence and interrupt in my rush to get them to finish more quickly.  I snap at people when they aren't doing what I want them to do because it is slowing me down.  In the morning I nag at my kids to get up and get moving.  I cringe at people who take too long in the line at the store.  I say things like, "That was a total waste of my time."  I nod and say "uh huh" a lot, but I don't look up from what I'm doing and usually don't have a clue what they are saying to me.  I am not a fun person to be around.  I can tell when I am like that because people stop smiling when they see me.  Sometimes they stop talking.  Often they say things like, "Sorry.  I''ll come back later when you aren't busy."  Sometimes I feel bad when I see that, but I also feel resentment that now I have to take even more time to convince them that I truly want to hear what they had to say to me.
     Yesterday and today were days like that for me.  I felt frustrated that my time was being wasted, like it something that is worth money, when in reality, what could be more important than people?  The "stuff" will still be there later.  It won't be the thing I regret not having spent time on when I finally run out of time.
     I am so glad to say that the day started that way, but it didn't end that way.  I was able to refocus on my students and truly respond to what they needed, rather than react to what they were doing.  I was able to spend time talking to a former student and buy what she was selling.  I was able to spend an hour talking to a new teacher I mentor, but also consider a friend.  She rarely "bothers" me because she knows "how busy I am."  Luckily, I have plenty of time on Friday afternoons because I reserve every Friday for her and another new teacher.  Sometimes they both come down to visit.  Sometimes we stay and talk for a couple of hours.  Sometimes no one comes and that is okay, too.  I can be completely in the moment because time isn't controlling the moments I have with them.
     Today I celebrate the gift of time and vow to notice all the people along my day that need to be noticed, not just the one being trampled under my feet.  Peace.

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