But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need to do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like…“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Life can be stressful, exhausting and difficult. Life can also be wonderful, magnificent and beautiful. Yesterday, as I sat by the fire, reading The Little Prince to my daughter, the above passage jumped right off the page at me.
Some things we can control and some things we can’t. But do our students know this? Do our teachers? Do we?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning
Like the polar vortex that hit the southeast this past week, a school is a whirling vortex that, once formed can move, stretch, twist, and interact in complex ways.
We certainly can not control a vortex, but we can control the positioning of our chair. And we can teach our students and colleagues to do the same. We must! I hasten to mention that some of the students we see each day experience very few sunsets.
For those students that don’t have the good fortune of experiencing multiple sunsets at home, we must provide sunsets for them at school. Lots of them. This can be done through literature, love and perspective. We must teach them how to look for the beauty in even the tiniest of moments. Sometimes sharing a good joke may be a sunset moment. Other times simply listening to a child may help them experience a sunset moment.
There will also be children that come into our classrooms like a ray of light each and every day. With no reason whatsoever except for the fact that they love life. We must teach these children to teach others, and teach us, how it is they are able to move their chair so easily, such that they experience sunsets all of the time. They are a gift that we must cherish.
While Hip-hop artist Pharrell Williams is probably best known his hit song Happy, I would contend that his best song is Rainy Days which can be found on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. More specifically the lyrics below, from Rainy Days have a lot to teach us about finding joy when it may not seem nearby.
“This rainy day is temporary The contrast is why we got him ‘Cause sunshine due is just a cloud away…”
Rainy Days by Pharrell Williams from Despicable Me 2
So, because I wrote this piece does that mean that I am an expert on sunsets? Not at all. I am currently up to about 10 or 15 a day. But, I will continue to shoot for 44 because I know it is possible. I know it is possible because I have the pleasure of seeing it every day with my own two children.
From them I learn much. From them I learn how to find joy in life. And for that I am forever grateful.
If you want to read about 24 educators who were able to find sunsets amidst rainy days, pick up a copy of my book My Bad: 24 Educators who Messed Up, Fessed Up and Grew.