We welcome our colleague and friend, Dr. LeAnne Syring, as our guest blogger this week. Dr. LeAnne Syring is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her passion lies with teaching aspiring educators to see each child as unique, special, and valued. She also enjoys sewing, reading, crafting, and bundling up in a blanket with a hot Chai Tea Latte in the winters of Minnesota.
Over the course of the last few months I have been in quarantine, like most of us have. In-person contact became restricted. I have taught classes, conversed with colleagues, students, and prospective students via Zoom. Realization of the impact the absence of this in-person contact was holding over me did not hit until I went on campus for a project. A group of us had been making masks at home to be able to give to all of our incoming freshman. We have picked up fabric pieces cut out by colleagues, taken them to our respective homes, and assembled them. Our group was contacted by our Minnesota CBS affiliate television station to do a story on the project (Click on the picture above to view the story).
This invitation brought us onto campus to join up as a group for the first time. We went to the campus costume shop, donned our masks, and practiced social distancing. I could not believe the energy that saturated my entire body from merely being with this group of people, in person, sewing and working together. We were no longer working in isolation we were truly a group of people working together toward the same goal. We were talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Until that moment I had not realized what that personal contact meant to me and my energy level.
This experience has reminded me of how much we may have taken for granted prior to this pandemic. The ability to converse with our colleagues face-to-face. The ability to go out for lunch with friends. The joy that comes from those interactions. As Joni Mitchell sang in the 70’s, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
A few years ago, my church’s pastor retired. He and his wife had been there for quite a few years and were absolutely the richest example of light and joy, kindness and generosity. While packing for the move they invited me over to look through their vast personal library for any book I would like to read. The afternoon that I spent with them was relaxing, calm, and irreplaceable. I asked myself, “why had I not spent more time with them?”
As a person who goes to analogies to explain things, I went to the analogy of a beautiful living room. We may painstakingly take the time to select the flooring, the wall color and all of the furnishings, but then never sit in the room. We save it. We look at it, but do not use it. It is treasured, but never utilized. The pastor and his wife were like a beautiful living room – they were always there, I knew that I could go and ‘look’ at them anytime I wanted, but I did not utilize them as I could have. The love and knowledge they could have and were willing to share, are now gone. I lost the opportunity.
The pandemic has shown me that it is time to use the beautiful living room, take out the ‘good dishes,’ talk to the people in your life that are there for you to learn from, and make the time to enjoy what you have been given.
Wear your mask, wash your hands, do your part and pray that COVID will soon be gone.
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone
They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot