Hanover, New Hampshire.
It has no hostels, but the trail runs right across the beautiful town, passing their college green and eventually meandering up behind the baseball fields to a shelter a short ways north. I don’t remember how long they’ve been doing it for, but the people who live there have banded together to take care of the hikers who come through their community.
Every year, folks in town open their homes to the hikers. There’s a list of possible hosts (name, phone number, number of places available, smoking/non-smoking, pets) that’s written up every year and distributed to the one or two libraries, outdoor stores, and other hiker-frequented areas, in Hanover and north and south on the trail a little ways. It is an amazing thing.
I stayed with two hosts when I went through. For the second host, wracked with guilt for hogging a space, but wanting to stay in town for one more day, I called people on the list, and told them I’d already stayed. She called me back that evening. I forget her name; and I didn’t write it down. She is a retired nurse.
This was last July, but I’m writing now because I know a number of y’all are teachers in one capacity or another, and I’d like to hear your thoughts.
One of the observations that this Hanover nurse had was our inability, as a society, to deal productively with our emotions. She told me that, over the course of her lifetime, she’d met and cared for so. many. people. whose basic problems stemmed from that inability. I asked her what she meant. Emotions are data that our body is giving us, she said. They give us feedback on ourselves and our relationships to the people and world around us. But most of us never learned how to deal with them as useful input, and so instead of learning to control our emotions, we are controlled by them.
“For example,” she said, “Many of us don’t accurately identify our emotions. Maybe I’m afraid of something, or sad. I default to anger, my defense mechanism.”
She continued, I’ll know I felt anger, and acted from it- but it’s important to also identify if fear or sadness was behind those interactions. Because if I’m stuck at anger, I never get to address the underlying things that are making me sad or afraid. This leads to many, many recurring conflicts…. And we view being angry, or fearful, or sad, as negatives. No, she said. They are tools. They are useful indicators of underlying things that we should face.
“Hmm.” said dusty hiker me. “Interesting. How would you help it?”
“Um… Teach emotional resilience in schools,” she said.
Yesterday I was trolling the interwebs, and found the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, and thought I would write to you about this conversation.
Jesse Lewis was a six-year-old who went to Sandy Hook Elementary. In December 2012, he died along with 19 of his classmates, and six educators. The family came home that night, and found that he had written, “nurturing, healing love,” on their board in the kitchen. In response, his mom (Scarlett Lewis) created this organization of free resources and supplementary curriculums for teaching kids from elementary to high school how to identify things accurately and deal with conflicts (emotional maturity what). I found it a couple days ago. It was exactly what our Hanover nurse was talking about last July, and it stuck in my head, so I figured I’d show it to you.
If you’re interested, here’s their program overview and a few sample curriculums. Also, here’s a picture from life while I assemble summer gear, and plot.
Check it out, y’all. Thanks for existing, you wonderful humans you.