Scott D. Parker
You know you are in some sort of momentum groove thing when you wake up at 5am thinking about your book. That's what happened to me this week. In the past five or so years that I've kept my typical up at 6am/asleep by midnight routine, my bodies internal clock has mostly reset to this rhythm. Regularly, on Saturdays, I'l wake sometime around 6, realize it's Saturday, and then return to sleep. Irritatingly, of course, are those week days when the internal alarm rings at 5:45, or 5:30.
Tuesday, I think it was, the alarm rang at five, and the second thought I had--after looking at my watch and realizing it was, fact, five o'clock in the AM--was "I know what I'm going to write about today when I get to my person writing session." In the dark, with that thought cloning to my brain, I smiled. In all the months of writing struggles I've had, I've never had a thought like that since the days I was writing my first book. It was then that I knew, no matter how this book came out, I'm pretty sure I'm on the right path.
But I still struggled this week. I'm behind on the official 1667-word per day count--I'm writing this Friday night and don't know how many words I'll get down after I'm done with this--but I'm firmly in control of my main goal: create (again) a writing habit. I've been using my Streaks app on my iPod and I've got a nice string of red Xs in a row. Not going to break that, you know.
Some of those red Xs denote days where I churned out over 2,000 words, others, not so much, and it's those days when I always doubt myself. I seem to always have that inner critic that's whispering "Don't bother. It's all crap." Yeah, well, it may be crap, but it's crap I'm going to finish. That spirit of moving forward towards a goal is what I'm really holding on to.
It's a good thing, too, that 5am wake up call. It was like a little lightening strike that sent a current through me, told me I was on to something. The other lightening strike that landed in my house was the kind you don't want to get.
My son's 2nd grade teacher, Michelle Friou, passed away quite suddenly this week. He's in 5th grade now and Ms. Friou is, to date, the best one he's had. What makes the news shocking is that she was younger than my 43 years. Always vibrant Ms. Friou had an infectious smile that literally made you smile as well. She loved, loved teaching and her students were the better for it.
In the fall of his 2nd grade year, when my boy was having a few "conduct issues" at school and Ms. Friou learned that he wasn't bringing home the conduct sheets, she was disappointed, to say the least. She walked him out of the school personally and told my wife. She also told Austin that she wanted him to restore her faith in him. By giving him that second chance, he understood that the world is not only the result of first-and-only chances, but seconds, thirds, fourths, or how ever many it takes to get things right. By the end of that 2nd-grade year, after his grades improved and his conduct became a non-issue (and Ms. Friou was awarded Teacher of the Year by her peers), I knew what I had learned the previous autumn was a fact: Ms. Friou was one-of-a-kind.
She also proved herself important to our family when she wasn't just a teacher. As my wife and I agonized in our decision to remove our boy from one school and put him in another, we called Ms. Friou for her advice. It was a huge decision for us, a turning point in my boy's life. Were we right in moving him? Upon learning that the new school would have a class size of about ten, Ms. Friou summed everything up succinctly: "It's a no brainer." Even though I was leaning towards to move, that ended my worry over the matter. Most of the weight of the decision was lifted from my shoulders. So I was very happy when, last week, my boy and I saw Ms. Friou at the grocery store and she specifically asked him how he liked the new school. And I got to thank her again for her advice. I told my wife that very night how excited Ms. Friou was for our boy in his new school. With the tragic news of Thursday, that last meeting has some personal significance. I am personally happy that I got to thank her one last time and for her to know that she made a difference in our family.
And if that's happened with our family, I know she has touched countless others as well.
Life is so, so precious. Too often, we just take it for granted. I know I do. The people in our lives really do matter, even the ones we fight with or love or merely see in passing. Even when the everyday stresses of work, home life, family life, parent life seem overwhelming, I always pause--and more so since Thursday--and remember the basic fact: I'm alive. When bad lightening strikes as it always will, we deal with it and move on, hopefully with a little bit more understanding of the world. And, naturally, when the good lightening strikes, as elusive as it is, always pause to experience it, relish in it, and soak it in.