Before Now Becomes Back Then

It was just last week. Everywhere I went, spring was out in full force. If I walked down the sidewalk, if I looked out of the window, as I drove around, there were flowers and tree blossoms showing off like teenagers headed to the prom. The brown and gray hues of winter took a backseat now to green, yellow, purple, pink, orange.


And now? Most of it's gone. The green's here to stay, but most of the vibrant flowers that were out last week have faded or fallen or withered completely. I'm just glad I noticed them while they were around. It wasn't long.

The flowers aren't the only ones quickly moving on. It's May, and the school year ends in a month. It feels like yesterday was August and I was gearing up for my students to start.

There are kids I taught in 7th and 8th grade who are graduating from high school in a month. It seems like I was just watching them stumble and stutter through the hallways here in middle school with their awkward, disproportionate limbs flopping around, and now they look like grown-ups.

I keep wanting to tell people I've been teaching for four or five years, but when I stop to think about it, I realize I've now been teaching for almost nine. Almost a decade.

What the heck is going on? 

Time has its own schedule, and whether I like it or not, the train is moving.

Lately, I've been trying to be much more aware of now —what's happening now, enjoying now, appreciating now before it becomes back then

Sometimes, I get so focused on a task, I forget to simply enjoy what's happening right in front of me. I do this with my students every year—I get absorbed in getting things done, and when the end of the year comes, I wish I had stopped and enjoyed talking to the kids more, appreciating their jokes and quirks. I don't get that time back.

I'm trying to be better this year. I want to stop and take in what's happening. I want to appreciate the little details of the moment.

I don't want my emails to keep me from appreciating these kids I might never see again after June.

I don't want something on my phone to keep me from appreciating the friends who went out of their way to be with me in person.

I don't want some stupid argument or petty issue that I won't care about in a day or a week to keep me from appreciating the people I love while I have them around.

Today's going to be tomorrow faster than I think it will. All of a sudden, a year will have gone by. Or a decade. People who I thought would be around might not be around. I don't want to look back and kick myself for taking it for granted.

So whether it's a kid's bad joke, or the way the sun's filtering through the window, or someone's laugh, I'm reminding myself to pay a little better attention, before it's gone.

Before now becomes back then.