Finger Addition

I counted on my hands with a nine-year-old this week.

My school has required volunteer hours, and I’m at an after school tutoring program this year. They had me teaching multiplication to a sweet fourth grade girl (which is a joke because I am in college and still don’t know my times tables). So they had me -struggling- to teach her multiplication, and I realized how difficult it is to explain an abstract concept to a shifty child, and sent up a prayer of gratitude for every math teacher EVER, and we counted on our fingers. Multiplication is just crazy addition, I told her, and addition is just counting on your fingers. (I am in college and I actually have never stopped counting on my fingers. My life is a joke.)

I’m not sure how much I helped that little girl. Next week I’ll point her toward someone who is good at math and I’ll help someone with some writing. But it was a good reminder to myself to count on my hands too.

I’ve been here for a month now! And I’ve been realizing I’m getting lost in the days. I get lost in the class periods, the library nights, the afternoons reading in the sunshine. The countless bowls of cereal in the student dining room and five flights of stairs to my hall and the songs in chapel. I’m getting lost in the individual moments. It feels like a book report is just a book report. An hour of lecture is just an hour long lecture. It feels like today is just a little day spent doing a few errands and a few chores in a big city.

I’m losing focus of the truth that it all adds up. The afternoons add up to days which add up to months which add up to years. The class periods add up to credits which add up to a degree. I’m counting on my fingers to remind myself that I’m not spinning my wheels in the middle of the walks to class and chapters to read before tomorrow and loads of laundry.

It’s not that I’m already wishing this (waves hands at my dorm room and school and present life in general) away already. I’ve been wishing FOR this for years and just got here! But the feeling that you’re not going anywhere, not doing anything meaningful, just kind of floating while life happens for everyone else all around you is not fun. I think it takes a vision of the big picture to give meaning to the individual pixels.

A good friend diagnosed me with “culture shock” over the phone this week. You can be the judge of that if you want. I just think that I’m still adjusting… slowly. I hope I don’t sound like I’m falling apart…these are my vulnerable thoughts, but I’m good, I really am. I’m enjoying this process. I’m blessed beyond measure. This is exactly where I know I’m suppose to be and where I want to be.

But if you need me, I’ll be over here counting on my hands.


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