2018 has been a rough year for me in some ways, and it has done nothing to erase my constant questioning about whether I’ve done anything productive with my life or whether I ever will. That’s something that pesters me on a regular basis, especially now that I have an autoimmune disease that I’d never before heard of before I was diagnosed with it. All I know is I’m tired a lot and sometimes I can’t think.

On Sunday morning I was feeling particularly blue. As the family headed out to the Taco-Bet in my little white car I said to Michael, “I sure wish I could find me a treasure.”

If you are not a junker you might not understand this, but there is something very thrilling about finding a wonderful treasure at a flea market or thrift store. I keep my eyes wide open for vintage cameras and Pyrex, but lately I’ve had a dry spell. I just haven’t found anything to give me that real excited feeling of pure joy in a pretty good while.

We were rounding the last aisle, and about to wind down and get breakfast when I saw it. My treasure!

Propped up in the middle of a “Gone With the Wind movie poster,” and some other something similar, it sat in all its glory. It was a painting of a train coming through the snow, and it called right to me. I asked the man how much and he told me it was 50 years old, it’d been in storage and he’d take five bucks for it. I looked it over again. And there in the corner was a man in an orange hat. He had his shotgun in hand and his two bird dogs by his side as a he waved at the passing black engine.

“I’ll take it,” I said as my heart filled itself to the brim with glee.

I can’t really tell, but I think it is signed “M. P. Giles, 1968.”  If that artist is out there anywhere, just know that I will forever treasure this painting, as I’ve hardly been able to take my eyes off it.

Later Sunday evening, as I was cooking supper, I was thinking, and having a fairly petty talk with God, I guess. I remember thinking that maybe I need to do something that I could be proud of.

The evening rocked on and for some reason I turned on my computer and logged into LinkedIn, which I don’t think I’ve done since last year.

There waiting for me were several messages from a former student. He had published a book and wanted some background information about me so he could include it, because I had been an inspiration of his. He told me how much he enjoyed my class and said he’d take it again if he could.

I thought back on the class he attended. It was American Literature at Calhoun Community College and that class had been the most fun I’d ever had teaching. This particular student, an older gentleman, sat on the very front row, right in front of me. I remember feeling very intimidated on the first day of class. Teaching college courses is an intimidating thing, especially when you’re teaching older students and you look 15, as I did at the time. As it turns out he sat at the front of the room because he had problems hearing, and not, as I had narcissistically feared, to pass judgment on my still new teaching skills.

So I got my answer. I’ve done something that matters. I inspired someone to write a book.

And that’s enough for now.

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