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Not happy with where you are? Push life's reset button

Nov. 22, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

I looked down at my Garmin wrist device. On the face was a display of my last run's distance and time: 10.0 miles in 1:36:35. I smiled at the memory.

It was from Saturday morning. I ran all around Ritter Park, beginning at 9:30. When I started, the temperatures hovered in the mid-30s. However, as I ran, they rose into the 40s. It had been what I call, a "golden" day. Fall sun shining through the remaining yellow and orange tinted leaves creating shimmering light that seemed to softly glow. A golden path of leaves unfolded before me reflecting the sun's light and adding more sparkle to the morning. Breath came out of my nose and mouth in a smoky rhythm. These are the mornings I could run forever. Yet, it is that Garmin that had my focus.

Each time I turn on the Garmin, there is my time and mileage from my previous run. Then, with the press of the reset button, I watch it count down. Three, two, one; and, just like that, my Garmin is completely cleared. Nothing but zeroes is left. Then, when I am ready, I press the start button and my new numbers begin. Simple, but it had me thinking.

Recently, my daughter, Madelyn said to me, "Mom, every night when I go to bed, I pray to be good -- to remember and not make mistakes." I completely sympathized with her. We were discussing the fact that she was not remembering to complete all of her daily responsibilities. I recalled being her age and wanting to "be good" for my parents, yet it seemed each and every day, I still reverted back to some "bad behavior." I could never get it right -- the balance between my desire and my actual choices.

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a teacher's conference and listen to a speaker talk about the brain and how it learns. She specifically spent time sharing what scientific research reveals about the adolescent brain. According to this presenter, the brain grows rapidly during two points of life: the first month of life and then again at puberty. Then, after this rapid growth occurs, the brain performs what scientists refer to as "pruning." Basically, the brain trims off information learned during that growth period it finds unnecessary. "This is why your middle school kids can't seem to remember anything," said the speaker. Boy, was she ever right about that. Between my own child and the eighth-graders I currently teach, as well as the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders I coached, it seemed as if none of the kids could remember anything. Now, I knew why.

Basically, the brain was resetting itself during puberty; much in the way my Garmin resets itself when I press the button. The difference being, I can control when I push the reset button, while the kids, unfortunately, do not have the ability to control the onset of puberty. Yet, each day, perhaps, even each minute of each day, provides us with an opportunity to find our own reset button.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," states the old proverb with good reason. When we make a mistake, no matter how big or how small, press that "life reset" button and try again. That is all we can do as humans since none of us are perfect -- as much as we would like to be.

This also brings me to another point: forgiveness.

It is so easy to point the finger at others and their mistakes. Yet, Jesus stated, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone . . ." in John 8:7. I particularly like this story because the Pharisees are trying to test Jesus when they bring a woman to him who has committed adultery. I especially like to visualize the part where Jesus, rather than immediately answering the Pharisees, bends down to write on the ground. Then, even after he replies, he returns to writing on the ground once again. I have often wondered if he wrote or drew something specific; or, just humbled himself on the ground to make a point.

Therefore, the speaker at the teacher's conference provided me with a similar lesson. While I certainly must continue to encourage and help my own daughter and students find ways to remember their responsibilities, I must also bear in mind not only the fact, that I currently have a difficult time remembering tasks -- especially the older I get -- but also, I walked in their shoes once and was about as imperfect as teenagers come.

My Garmin provides a two-fold lesson, I believe. First of all, if you find the face screen of your own life not reflecting the type of choices you can be proud of, push life's reset button and try again. Additionally, when you observe another person making what you perceive are poor choices, but are trying their very best, forgive and forget. After all, who are we to cast a proverbial stone?

Finally, if you know any adolescents, remember, there is a biological reason for their forgetfulness, I just can't remember what it is!

May we all honor life's "reset" moments, both within ourselves and the lives of others.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net.