I see you.
When I roll across town twice a day on my trusty Schwinn Typhoon cruiser I have two rules, first is to wear the right clothing: balaclava, hoodie, mittens, down jacket, thick socks-no bad weather days just bad clothing choices. And second make eye contact, wave and see and be seen by everyone I pass.
We are not a focused culture, always late to get somewhere, concerned with checking off the box at the end of the task rather than enjoying or learning from the task itself. Just ask my students who on more than one occasion have asked, “Just tell me what I can do to get credit.”
It’s past time to start seeing people. Could be as simple as direct eye contact with drivers when riding a bike or as complex as finding the right gift for your wife on your 28th anniversary.
I love my job, like, love my job, like if someone came up to me and said, “Hey, Walt, you can have any job in the world.” I would say no thanks, I’m good (OK, maybe lifeguard at Waimea Bay).
I get to ride to work, do some painting, help some misunderstood kids, promote Science, hang out with cool colleagues, and spend my afternoons teaching two sports I love. Sure, it’s a little more complex than that but really, after 23 years, teaching is, and should be, easy.
School is outdated. Know why everyone is upset over the education system? Simple, it’s broken, the job of educating people has changed, society and technology have changed, and guess what hasn’t changed? Are you watching the influencer who makes huge bank smoking dabs in public places? Well, your kids are because that’s what it’s come to. And if you don’t know what influencers or bank or dabs are then that’s a part of the problem too.
See, things change and it’s fine not to change with them but when you are supposedly educating kids, you need to at least see the change. And how about setting an example because kids are watching what you do much more than what you are saying.
Wouldn’t it be better to start seeing kids. To see their mental and physical pain and start addressing it (begin with the documentary STUTZ on Netflix). How about if we start addressing health by living healthy? Teach nutrition by offering nutritious food in school? Teach math using math that matters (Taxes, budgets, mortgages, credit). And Science, oohhh baby, has Science taken a beating in the last few years. And how about getting rid of leaders who are not moving us forward?
Schools should be the place to have the difficult conversations about religion and abortion and evolution and race and real history. We should be teaching empathy and how to accept other people’s views. And how about a little integrity? Flame the liars and cheats because they’re liars and cheats. Prioritize my old friend Science who has taken quite a beating in the last few years.
It’s hard to see people, but also super easy. J James is one of my favorite stores in town and the other day I was riding home three days before my 28th anniversary (The key to 28 years together-simple, see your spouse, and yes, that goes both ways). The note on the door said the owners would be back in 15 minutes. I pivoted and rode on to Scandia bakery for a Princess cake knowing it would be just as well received as the traditional earrings from J James.
But halfway there I realized that sugar is always complicated so I went home and Kate and I made plans together for a fun day in the city (Dim Sum, Green Apple Books, de Young, comedy at the polo fields, dinner at Cha Cha Cha’s). It was a brilliant day even though we decided to skip dinner and head back to Sonoma for Himalayan take out.
Things work out when you see people. My professional success is based on seeing people (teens just want to be seen), the best relationships are the ones where I see people and they see me.
I’ve started a gratitude Friday tradition of sending random emails to acquaintances who are quietly making our community a better place and not the Iturris or McNeelys who do incredible things but are already being seen. I’m talking about Michelle Clark and Val Robichaud and Lauren Drinkhall, people who I don’t know all that well but who I see doing important things.
I have begun sending little emails to these people on Fridays just because I can and because feeling like you have been seen is also important. Think about who you want to see, then send them an email that says I see you.
And please slow down for that that guy cruising by in the balaclava.