They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which makes both figurative and literal sense when the picture is a photo of an actual thousand pieces. The thousand pieces you see in the picture above is from my dismantled iPhone. Most of those pieces are not visible to you, because they are tiny. I mean tiny like fleas on a dog tiny, and equally aggravating. And by the way, some of those tiny screws are now forever lost in the forest of my bedroom carpet. What you are really looking at is a bona fide near miss #holidaycatastrophe. But, lucky for me, I had Jason Mraz in my ear.
I like to listen to NPR on my car radio in the morning while driving to work. My favorite NPR segment is “In Your Ear”. Guests on the program share the music they currently are listening to on their iPods, and describe why their picks inspire them, move them, or just plain make them happy. This past week, along with the usual Christmas carols and Fa-la-la-la-las, this Jason Mraz song was in “In My Ear.”:
Living in the moment.
Living my life.
Easy and breezy.
With peace in my mind.
I got peace in my heart.
Got peace in my soul.
Wherever I’m goin’,
I’m already home.
Living in the moment.
That’s a lot of peace. We can never have too much peace. In fact, like many educators, I was more than ready for some peace of mind when my Holiday break rolled around last week. Educators experience a mad flurry of “have to get done” projects and events at the end of December. My mad flurry was no exception, and to slow things down a bit, I decided to cut some Christmas shopping corners.
For a variety of practical reasons, I wanted Santa to give each of my children phones. I did not want, however, to spend any money to get there. My fifteen year-old already owned a beat-up early generation iPhone with a shattered screen that was barely held together with duct tape. My eleven year-old did not have a phone. My wife had recently purchased a new iPhone 6, and my work phone was scheduled to arrive any day. In hindsight, I probably should have just purchased new phones for each of them. Instead, I succumbed to the evil Daddy Cheap Skate standing on my left shoulder whispering in my ear, “You can spend $30 on two new screens and a tool kit to replace the cracked screens on your phone and Gwen’s phone, and slyly pass them off as new to your children on Christmas morning! Bwwwaaahhhh ha ha! ” Tempting me further, Daddy Santa Claus Wannabe was standing on my right shoulder whispering, “Picture it! Your beautiful grateful children on Christmas morning, wide-eyed, smiling broadly, and in perfect gleeful unison exclaiming, “Thank you Mommy! Thank you Daddy!” with Karen Carpenter crooning “Happy Holidays! Happy Holidays!” in the background.” A Norman Rockwell moment, right? Not exactly.
Have you ever tried to replace an iPhone LCD screen? Well, don’t. Contrary to what the nice man on the ten-minute YouTube video says in his best Bob Ross annoyingly calm voice, it is nearly impossible. Just to get to the tiny screws that hold the iPhone together, you have to remove each and every minuscule Silicone Valley part from the belly of that phone. AND THEN YOU HAVE TO PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER, if you can find each of the removed screws. Not going to happen! In the end, one of our phones powered on, but the touch screen did not work. The other phone’s screen stubbornly remained black, even though it did power on, as evidenced by the two short vibrations coughed from the phone when we flipped the ringer switch. My wife and I spent seven hours – I am not exaggerating – SEVEN hours locked in a very tense room trying to create the perfect Christmas moment. Seven hours we will never get back. Our Christmas happy disappeared somewhere around hour three. There was no “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” in that room. My wife was crying and I was on the verge of tears myself. Christmas was ruined. Then I remembered…I had Jason Mraz in my ear:
If this life is one act,
Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free.
I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about some things
That will not happen to me.
Of course Christmas was not ruined. But, I had set myself up for failure. I had laid this trap myself and led my wife and me right into it. I was not “easy and breezy” with peace in my mind, heart and soul. Instead, I viewed every passing moment as a threat to a happy family Christmas. Instead of living in those moments, taking on the challenge with joy, I batted defensively at each one and watched them fly by with despair. Once those moments passed, I didn’t feel relieved; I felt defeated. Those moments became part of the past, lost to time, never to return again. Some argue that the past and the future are really just creations of man, ideas that cannot be proven. The only thing we can prove, they say, is that we are here right now, in THIS moment. And, now, actually THAT moment is gone. And, THAT one. Get ready…here comes the next moment…and there it goes.
When I think of life as a series of precious moments strung together, one after the other, it gives me a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment. I can choose to live in those moments, even the most difficult moments, breath them in and taste them, soak in them and experience them as the gift of life itself. This includes moments in my personal and professional lives. An educator’s day consists of a stream of quickly moving and high energy overlapping moments. According to Shawn Achor (@shawnachor) of GoodThink, Inc. and author of The Happiness Advantage, the key to my happiness as a school leader depends on whether I live in each moment as if it is a threat or a challenge. I chose school leadership (or did it choose me?) because of its problem-solving focus, so I know I can live happily in the moment of any challenge. In the moment of a perceived threat, however, I just react and miss the moment altogether. Peace of mind, heart and soul will flow only from my choice to accept a difficult moment as a challenge rather than a threat to merely survive.
As I head into 2015, I’m choosing to live in each moment, viewing tiny little screws and thousand piece problems as challenges rather than threats. Instead of trying to create perfect Norman Rockwell moments to live in, I’ll live in the moments I’m dealt. With peace in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul! If I get a little off course at work or at home, I’ll pay closer attention to that song in my ear.
I’m letting myself off the hook for things I’ve done.
I let my past go past
And now I’m having more fun.
I’m letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong.
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone…
Living in the moment.
If you’d like to have Jason Mraz’s song in your ear, go to