Most of my days as a staff member at the Hudson Valley Sudbury School are busy as can be. My list is often long and I usually leave having only crossed a few things off because the joys and bustle of the day took me in other directions. But, on occasion, I arrive without a list and end up spending most of my day floating, wandering through the halls looking for who might possibly want my help, or heck, even my company. But, like today, everyone is seemingly content, engaged in their own pursuits and I am more of an unnecessary fly on the wall. In these moments I struggle, much like our students, to figure out how to be productive, to answer the bigger questions about my usefulness in our community, and in the world. I struggle with being alone.
I find myself alone in a silent office, which just adds to the deafening stillness of my day. Outside a young boy is walking in the snow, consumed by his own imagination. I watch him as he turns in circles, talking to himself, and occasionally whipping out a pretend weapon. He seems so content in himself and his activity. I yearn for that type of confidence. What does he have that I don’t? Why am I struggling with grounding my own feet?
As I ponder my place, the same young boy comes into the office with his lunch and asks to sit next to me while he eats. Of course. I help him with his juice pouch (who thought kids could insert those darn little straws on their own?) We sit side by side, me typing, him eating, alone in our worlds but still providing companionship.
“What were you playing outside?”
“Telling stories of course, about Aliens who decide to study humans.“
I have to smile, I wonder what those aliens would say about humans, about loneliness, about confidence. One thing is becoming clearer. He has the time, from a young age, to practice being alone. To be comfortable in his own skin, to feel strong in a giant world, and to find someone when he needs help or companionship. I just need some more practice, and lucky for me, I have the time to do just that.