A few days ago I was sitting with a friend. “If you look at the world,” he said, “it seems to be unraveling.” There was the usual bloodshed in the Middle East, and then rival biker clans in Waco, Texas had come to blows, which escalated to chains, clubs and knives, finally to guns. Nine people were dead. “How can people do this?” he sighed. I shared his frustration.
A little later that day I was driving across town and got behind a school bus. I was trying to get to the train station, so I was slightly annoyed. This bus was stopping every quarter mile. But as I watched the scene over and over, I had to smile. Here was a beautiful social ritual. Mothers and fathers watched their children from the front door to be sure they got safely on the bus. One father came carrying something—a school project?—which he loaded onto the bus with his son, then stood back and waved. Meanwhile, traffic in both directions stopped. Just to be extra careful. Just in case some kid would bolt into the street.
A few blocks later I saw a crossing guard. An ordinary man in a yellow reflector vest who walked into the road and raised his hand against a wall of surging vehicles in both directions, creating a safe passage for three little children to cross. I imagined this scene all across the country. (It turns out there are over 66,000 crossing guards like that in America.)
William James said this: “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
Maureen Morrow Young says
I applaude all crossing guards. They provide an invaluable service to children and parents alike! Always a smiling face rain or shine! Not to mention that being a crossing guard in a City, these caring people take their lives in their hands every time they step out into the middle of a busy intersection to get us across safely, while most people are running red lights and nearly running us down! They definitely needs better compensation!
I was driving around Darien on Sunday without a care in the world – then this guy comes up behind me and is on my tail to the point that I pulled over to see what his problem was. He of course rode by unaffected by the incident. I carried it with me all day. Ha, I was looking to fight the guy! Crazy. God bless the Crossing Guards and William James.
In our rush, we don’t spend enough time appreciating the seemingly mundane daily activities around us. Take time to smile about the happy dog enjoying his morning walk, even if he is delaying your turn by a few moments….
Don Livingston says
I saw a post today saying we should know the first name of the person who cleans our office. Perhaps also the name of our crossing guard?
Good post, David. Love how you direct our attention to the dramas being played out right in front of us. Thank you David.