I have not worked as a counselor in an official capacity for almost four years (yes, it is true that my current job in educational leadership does lend itself to many counseling moments). That said, I no longer consider myself a counseling professional, I now consider myself a broader “educational professional”. Yet, I have these moments when I find myself slipping back into that counseling role. The interesting thing is that I slip into the counseling role in the strangest of places (can you relate?) It does not necessarily happen at staff or parents meetings exclusively. Sometimes, I find myself in counselor mode on the weekends or while on vacation – far away from my professional realities. Yesterday was one of those days.
We were driving downtown and I noticed this older gentleman. We followed him in our car for many blocks as he hobbled down the middle of the road, uninterested in moving out of the line of cars (or, perhaps, oblivious to the line of cars behind him). Thankfully, we were in no rush, as it was painfully slow. There was no one with him and I never did get a view of his face. Yet, I realized in that moment that my mind could create many narratives for this man.
I could believe he had a loving family and was walking there for lunch, or I could believe that he was a lonely widow, happy to walk in the middle of the road, as he was overwhelmed with depression. Perhaps he had Alzheimers or dementia and forgot the necessity of utilizing the sidewalk for safety reasons… maybe he is a millionaire, or was a millionaire, or maybe he struggles to make ends meet.
Everyone has a story, their own narrative about how they interact with the world around them. It is fascinating and humbling to pause for a moment and remember that there are many more stories than our own – and if we do take the time to stop and listen to the multitude of stories that surround us, we will be blessed.
Today, 53 days ’til 40, I am reminding myself to stop and take notice of all the amazing people around me and the stories they have to share.