On Wednesday, our entire grade of sophomores – more than a hundred kids – at my school (Mt. Vernon High School) spent the day at the Field Museum in Chicago. We left the school in the dark at 6:30 in the morning, and returned (also in the dark) at around 10 that night.
In all honesty, I was not terribly excited about this trip – mainly due to the fact that it would take up my entire day. I wasn’t looking forward to not getting a run in, and also wasn’t thrilled about being disconnected from Reflections for a day.
But you know me; I always do things with a totally open mind! (This is only humorous if you actually do know me, in which case you will know that I am actually not one of the most open-minded people – but I try). And guess what? The trip did manage to surpass my expectations! (the trick is to “manage expectations” beforehand – JK)
I actually learned a lot, and if you ever get the chance to stop in and say Hi to Sue (the dinosaur) while in the Windy City, I thoroughly recommend you do so. Of all that I did learn in my five hours at the museum on Wednesday, here are the six things that I most want to share with you:
1. One person can make a big difference I’m not sure about you, but I have often thought about just how insignificant our lives seem when looked at as part of “the big picture” (not really the most optimistic of thoughts, I know). And yet, one thing that I really realized while combing through exhibits was that individuals can and do change the world. “Well, duh”, you say. But really, I think this is important to understand.
As you look back through history at the people who made a difference, they are not the kings who inherited the crown or tyrants that came to power by force. Although we remember these rulers (they made sure of that), we do not look back and say, “Gosh, he or she was a special person that changed a lot of lives.” Who do we say that about? We say that about the peacemakers and the healers. The gentle rulers and wise leaders.
The people that changed history were not limited to those born with wealth or social status; they were “normal” people that cared about others enough to do something about it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead~
2. Things are as you make them Simple as that. I actually enjoyed the time at the museum. That’s partly because I made it a point to learn all that I could in the time we were there, and really saw some neat things. But I guarantee you can talk to a bunch of other kids that will tell you it was a total waste of time (Facebook comment from a friend: “Have to say, the bus ride was the best part”). Remember that only you have the power to waste your time.
3. Everybody has a story to tell While I was standing next to Sue (the dino, remember), an elderly man wearing a forest-green “Museum Staff” polo wandered over to where I was. We struck up conversation, and I found his name to be Ronald. He was familiar with our town of Mt. Vernon, due to the many times he’d passed through town while on his trips back home to California. From Chicago. To California. In a car. Several times a year. Are you serious?
No, Ron was not kidding. Further more, I learned that he’d worked and lived in Chicago since 1945. Do the math. No, don’t – I’ll do it for you; that’s 65 years! Four times as long as I’ve been alive. My gosh! – that man belongs in one of the exhibits! (JK – with all due respect, of course)
And I never would have known any of this (and quite a bit more) about the elderly man standing next to me, had he not been interested in the shirt I was wearing (it was from the Des Moines Marathon, now that you’re curious).
So, point in case: There is not a single person in the world that we can’t learn something from. People are worth your time.
4. Our world is awesome There are some pretty sweet things on this planet, and really, everything is pretty much a miracle. That being said, it is our job to pay attention to and preserve the life around us. We don’t want the Earth and Space museum to be turning into the History Channel anytime soon (although I do enjoy the History Channel).
5. It’s not as bad as you think The world’s going to end in 2012, right? Hopefully, you think that’s ridiculous – and if you don’t, I don’t mean to insult you, but I’m taking bets (just sayin’).
And although the newspapers do make it seem as if mankind is in quite a bit of trouble, I really don’t know if we’re as messed up as many believe (but don’t get me wrong, we do have some problems). Did you know that the world has undergone 5 “Great Extinctions” (and is in it’s 6th)? Did you know that we are currently in an Ice Age and that the world has been repeating natural patterns of melting and refreezing for the last few billion years? (O.K., you knew that one). In fact, if the 4.5 billion-year-old history of the earth were to be measured in proportion to one year, man would not appear until December 31st at 8:30 in the evening! Makes you feel small, but still gives some hope for the next few generations, eh?
6. There’s so much more to learn ‘Nuf said. We don’t know it all, and never will (thankfully). Furthermore, you don’t know what you don’t know. (At least I don’t. And btw, if you know what I don’t know I don’t know, I’d love if you’d tell me so I can make sure and learn it – if you followed that.)
So that’s the six lessons, thanks for sticking with me for all of them. (This is assuming you did read all 6, but intended to make you feel guilty if you didn’t – and if that’s the case, than I really recommend the lesson you skipped over; it’s by far the best one!)
Hopefully you caught my drift on most of the points, and if you have anything to add, I really want to hear it. Those comment boxes are way too empty, and I’m pretty sure there’s one with your name on it.
Also, if you liked this post, I so appreciate if you’d pass it on to just one other person. And in addition to that, if you didn’t like this post, there’s probably someone you know who would like it (you can email it to me if you have to), so thank you for spreading the word.
I hope you enjoyed your time on our 10th grade field trip.
Have a good one!