Last year I started a new job. A High School Counseling position at a LARGE high school in Fairfax County, Va. I had a huge learning curve. It was like drinking from a firehose, for sure! Well, work at school this year has been VERY DIFFERENT than last year. I’m feeling much BETTER at my job and much more capable. Now that I’m not drowning in the LOGISTICS like “who do I call??” and “What is the phone number?” or “How do I get to that classroom even??” Or “How do I access that report on the computer!??” NOW, I can CARE about the kids. And…care, I DO! And CARING is HARD WORK. Caring and working hard to HELP A KID can drag you down….and I/we help SO MANY KIDS every day (and YOU, yes YOU probably help a kid or an adult or a group of workers, or ANYONE every day!)…and sometimes with all of that HARD WORK you just want to REST for many days, or throw your hands up in the air, or yell to the sky, or….maybe even some days, you want to give up.
But then I think about that story, you know the one….about the boy/girl on the beach…throwing starfish back into the water??
Well, I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately, and thinking about all of my kids, my “starfish”. And you know what I keep thinking??? THROWING STARFISH IS HARD and HEAVY work. That cute little girl on the beach, bless her! Those starfish on that beach were EASY to toss back in! These starfish that WE DEAL WITH on a DAILY BASIS….are a different kind of “tossing”…it’s dragging, pulling, prodding, questioning, HARD! Tedious work, confusing work, work that makes you think you’re losing your mind or that you feel completely inadequate, or completely overwhelmed…..or not equipped enough!
The starfish story makes us THINK that at the end of throwing all the starfish back in we can just walk gently, softly off of the sands of the beach, barefoot and breezy, glide into our adirondack chair with an umbrella in our drink, and watch the sun set into the beautiful ocean horizon. Well, I’m here to say (and I know you feel it too!)…we ain’t going home to glide into anything except BED, the COUCH, or THE TUB because we are completely exhausted from slugging around starfish all day trying to get them from point A to point B or to help them feel better, or calm down, or understand who they are, or to communicate with their peers or other adults better. We are coming home and FALLING to our faces because the work we do “saving starfish” is hard work.
But we do it because we know they need us, because someone once slugged us around and “saved” us in the way we needed “saving” way back, one day, many years ago….or maybe many days, a few years ago…We do it because DEEP in our heart and spirit we are CALLED to the slugging, to the listening, to the asking, the prodding, the WAITING…. We know that there is no other work we’d rather be doing (and if there IS OTHER WORK you’d rather be doing… PLEASE… find a way to do it ALONG SIDE OF or find a way to GET OUT of this work, it’s too dang hard if you’re not CALLED to it!!) in any case……
If you are like me, and you have a little starfish (or a big one, or MANY of them) that you are working to “sling back into the water”….can I just offer up a CHEER FOR YOU?? No, wait…may I offer up a WHOLE STADIUM FULL of CHEERS for you?? You’re doing it…Heck, WE ARE DOING IT…it’s thankless (sometimes), it’s courageous (always), it’s risky, it’s exhausting, it’s NEVER ENDING…but do it because WE CAN DO IT, because we are driven to do it. Don’t give up! AND…if you need to FIND A DIFFERENT WAY TO SLING starfish back into the water in order to continue the work…DO IT!
The starfish will thank you one day!