• Paul Satchwill

How You React Becomes How You Remember

This week I was on break from work. It was amazing! The week before, the crazy week where break is so close students can taste it, I had timed writings in two of my classes. If you’ve never sat through a timed writing, consider yourself #blest. A timed writing is essentially a timed essay prompt given to prepare students for the timed writing portion of the SAT and ACT. They’re boring to write and boring to grade. However, there are always a few students who breath life into their writing, and sometimes it’s so unexpected and so beautiful. Take this, for example:

“From my grandpa’s kind words he spoke to me that day, every one of my days I spend trying to find the good in hard or bad situations. My primary reason for doing this is so that when I look back at my life I see not the bad things or the struggles I have been through, but the good times and fun things I have done to make me feel like I have lived my life to the fullest and my greatest potential.”

LIKE. That is so powerful! This thought process strikes me because this young man is choosing to find the positives not necessarily for his present comfort, but so that his future self has a bright past to reflect on. How you react in the present not only defines your future, but how you see your past. Remember the election? Remember that nightmare?! Chances are you have family who think differently than you do (@ me). You have family who supported one candidate or the other, and had a completely opposite reaction to the outcome than you did, or than you think any sane person should. Luckily, we’ve had a couple of weeks to process and think about what happened. That being said, I only just now feel comfortable discussing the results with a few people. Why? It’s not because I’m scared, but because I don’t want one incident- however catastrophic- to define this period of my life and the relationships I have in it. I am challenging myself to find the positives in people, family included, so that I have a bright past to reflect on (although, can 2016 possibly be bright at this point? smh). In almost every year of my life there has been either a really great event, or a really bad one. Try as I might, I cannot separate those events from myself. They’ve happened, and they’re over. My freshman year of college is muddled with things I wish could have happened differently. But since they’re already over, I’m only in charge of how I let them influence me now. Like my student, I want to look at the positive in these situations (the people they caused me to meet, the relationships that were strengthened, etc). I want to remember such sweet years of my life in a positive way, and not let the negative influence me away from those memories. 2011 was difficult, but it was the year when I met one of my life-long best friends. 2012 was amazing, but much of what was amazing is no longer in my life. Again, a life-long friend was met, and he remains. 2013 changed my life- I will be hard pressed to have a better year (and I'm viewing that as a challenge). 2014 was 2013, but deeper and more intense. The year I saw the world as more than what I'm familiar with. I recognized my role. 2015 changed everything. It was difficult, painful, and often lonely. 2016 has been long, revealing, and brought me to a new, healthier place in many areas. Other areas are still catching up. Time keeps moving, and things keep happening. How we react to each new event, whether positive or negative, defines how we remember those periods in our lives. I've heard it said that what matters in life doesn't come easy, and I believe that that also applies to our memories. Learning to deny the gut reaction to respond negatively and instead respond with even a shred of light will give us the opportunity to look back, years from now, and think, "that wasn't so bad."



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