To “Be” or not to “Be”

At 53 years old I am a student. At 89 years old I will be a student. When I say goodbye to this world, I will be a student.

Yesterday, I was trying to help a student who has autism. I was kind. I gave this student squeezes, I spoke calmly; soothingly. This student’s aggravation grew.

I see a lot of “Be Kind” bumper stickers. “Be Understanding,” in my opinion, is where we need to “Be,” but that’s too substantial for a bumper sticker.

I looked to the teacher for advice with this student. The teacher explained that this student was working through inner thoughts; likely about an event that happened earlier at home that we knew nothing about. This student needed space to verbally work through those emotions.

This explanation clicked immediately in my mind. It made sense in the way some times physical touch and calming words are needed; while others space is required. But without that explanation, I don’t believe I would have seen this difference on my own. But now that I did, it was set in place in my mind and I will now be better equipped to help this student when another such happening occurs.

Every day, in this way, I gain new understanding. I gain new confidence and strength in helping give these students what they need to move forward.

One of my friends, whose son has autism, said she wishes, just for a moment, she had a special key to unlock his brain, walk in, take a look around, say, “uh huh,” then close his brain back up and move on with life.

Full understanding is an unattainable goal, but when we shoot for the moon, we can reach the stars; even if it’s one star at a time.

I’ve been asked more times than I can count stars, “How do you have such patience?”

I’ve used the word “patience” regarding Wil in my stories about helping him through “stuck” patches. But now, after having the few months of experience in this work that I’ve had, my perspective on “patience” has shifted.

Now, when I consider that word, “patience” is exercised when I don’t want to take the time to understand. When time is urgent, and Wil won’t go. When I want Wil to cooperate and he won’t. So I wait him out. But when I truly learn to read his cues; when I anticipate what may happen, when I try to take the “key” so to speak and unlock what is happening in his mind, that’s not patience. That’s being a student; that is cultivating an understanding. And when you unlock even a piece of understanding, the elation is beyond words.

To truly fill up the well inside of you, don’t just “Be kind.” Be desirous to learn. Be desirous to understand. Be desirous to be a perpetual student. Reach for the moon, and even if you grab one star, you’ll “Be” substantiality beyond what any bumper sticker can preach.


Published by Christie Taylor

Christie Taylor is the creator of the website,, and author of "Stories of Wil: Puberty Part 1" ( Christie believes that if we all had the opportunity to spend a day with our loved ones with Down syndrome, many of the stereotypes and stigmas would dissipate. Christie invites you, through her stories, to spend a day with Wil. The more the merrier!

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