I see a lot of angry ranting people in my line of work. I try not to rant too much. It never really turns out well for me. I still do it, of course, but at least I’m slowing down. The other day a student of mine was trying to tell me about a rant he witnessed at recess.
ME: “Can you tell me what he said?”
KC: “No Mr. Steinman, I’m not aloud to say those words”
ME: “It’s okay if you are reporting it to me calmly, I just want to make sure I know what we are dealing with. I don’t want to over-react”
KC: “Well you know when you are stuck in traffic and you’re Dad is getting really mad. He said THOSE kind of words”
Got it. It sent me back to a rant I had while I was still working in a residential program, circa 1996:
I was fairly new to teaching and had the kind of fire in the belly that makes rookies simultaneously endearing and annoying. I was getting pretty self-righteous about something, which now escapes my memory. My boss, Larry, patiently listened to me for a full ten minutes. Larry was a giant twig of a man, with eyebrows that didn’t so much arch but pointed upwards towards spiky hair. Everything about him was sharp. His long goatee exactly mirrored the chevron of his eyebrows. His smile can only be described as wicked.
Smiling, he put his arm around my shoulder to signal that I was done talking and said something that has become a sort of mantra to me.
Larry: “Corey........... you’re not that important”
ME: “Gee, Larry, I’m touched. Ummm what the f***?”
Larry: “I’m not that important either”
ME: “So what is the important thing here?”
Larry: “The thing that's important to remember is …… What Is Important” pause.......waiting for me to get it…..
ME: sledge hammer makes cotact…….”and it ain’t ME”
Larry: “Nope…….it ain’t me neither”
It’s hard to hold on to this mind-set, but I’m there right now. It’s my wife’s smile that completely fills me up. I love her voice and wish she was here to talk too. It’s the way the twins are petting a reluctant Sam-the-Cat. It’s the way the sun is landing on the Dogwood blossoms. It ain’t me.
Later today, something is going to tug on my ego. Someone is going to cut me off while merging on to 128 or say something unkind. I’ll want to rant. All the good stuff will disappear if I start cursing. Please let me hear Larry’s voice again before I get a head of steam going-
“Hey Corey, you’re not that important”