Monday, September 5, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over

From my favorite song of the past year:

“Happiness hit her, like a train on a track.
Coming towards her, stuck still, no turning back.
She hid around corners, and she hid under beds,
she killed it with kisses and from it she fled.
With every bubble, she sank with a drink
and washed it away down the kitchen sink.
The dog days are over,
The dog days are done.
The horses are comin, so you better run.”

Thank you, Florence and The Machine for these lyrics and the beautiful song (Dog Days Are Over) which they accompany. As stated, happiness does often come with a blow. You’re fine without it- maybe you even think you are happy. Then you find someone or something that makes you feel this whole new level of joy, but if it goes away, you’re left with just the lack-there-of, which I guess we call sadness. But isn’t that silly? If you did not realize you were unhappy before, why can’t you just revert back to that state of prior happiness, instead of getting hit by the subsequent sadness “train?”

Luckily, there remains the fact that we are all in charge of our lives and inevitably what happens to us therein. We can determine what happiness looks like for us, feels like, and the same goes for sadness. Once that thing that provided you with happiness becomes something that now makes you sad, you cannot dwell on it. You can, if you have the strength to, let it go.

This song strikes a particularly loud chord in my soul because of the running metaphor. I’ve been a runner for years, but had to put my career on the sidelines for a bit due to some post-marathon injuries of a year and a half ago. Recently however, I’ve gotten back into it, and can run both painfree, and even faster than before. While dealing with some post-happiness-sadness as of late, I’ve found solace in running; in pushing myself, in the burning in my legs, the heaving of my chest, and the relief of finishing a hard run. And on one of my latest runs, while this song overtook my ipod, I decided that my dog days are indeed over. No more feeling sad, no more woe is me. I’m washing that now lost happiness away “down the kitchen sink”, and running, fast.

One of my dearest friends who also teaches at my school, frequently gives our students this ultimatum: “There are two kinds of people in this world. You can either be an energy giver, or an energy taker.” She herself, is the epitome of an energy giver. She is almost always smiling, laughing, and simultaneously a full time teacher, graduate student, and she is training for a marathon. She helps me keep my reality in check. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by teaching, I think about how much MORE work she does on a daily basis, and I realize that the grass is definitely greener on the side where I’m standing.

An energy giver is that person at a party who just kind of glows. Who people naturally gravitate to, who makes people laugh, and conversation revolves around. An energy taker complains, and always seems to be in the middle of some major catastrophe, and is incapable of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes in order to realize that they don’t really have it that bad. Energy takers might not actually take the fun out of a situation, but they also don’t exactly add to it. Their presence is either not felt at all, or felt in a negative way.

I used to be an energy giver (at least I hope so), but lately I’ve been more of a taker. So I’d like to apologize to any and all of my friends who have had to listen to me complain and whine. Because honestly, I have nothing to complain about.

There is so much beauty in the world. Every day I get to witness children learn and grow, and even more pertinently, I get to be an instrumental part of their learning and growing. Next week, Cross Country starts after school, and this just adds a new dimension to my life and my time with students. I absolutely love running with my kids. And as a teacher and a coach, I MUST be an energy giver.

To flourish in this world, one must believe that they are the makers of their own reality. If you have a problem, try to find a solution. If you are unhappy, figure out what does make you happy and focus on that instead. If you are reading this and thinking “easier said than done,” then may I humbly suggest you find a hobby.

Lastly, we all experience what Florence calls “dog days,” and maybe the fear of them is what causes her to hide from happiness, as described in the first few lines of the song, posted above. I want to make clear that I am not saying we should run away (whether metaphorically or literally) from potential happiness. If you let old pain, and the fear of feeling that again, cause you to hide from new happiness, then get ready for a lonely, unfortunate life.

My point is simply this: if something is getting you down, then face it, and run away from it. More importantly, run towards something that makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is yet, then start with the Florence’s suggestions;

“Run fast for your mother, fast for your father,
run for your children for your sisters and brothers.
Leave all your love and your longing behind,
you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.”

So lace up your running shoes, folks. The dog days are over when you say they are, but the "horses" will never stop “comin.”

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