I remember as an eighth grader preparing my science project for the school science fair. The summer before, my dad, my mom, my little brother and I had visited Yellowstone National Park and of course, Old Faithful. So, I brought back that interest back with me, and my dad and I worked together on building a reasonable facsimile for my project. I had to do all the research and my dad and I came up with a percolating coffee pot that would serve as the geyser. It was housed in a wooden case he and I built together. On top of the case in order to simulate the geyser, we used a putty concoction. From a picture of the real geyser, we molded it and shaped it and eventually, I painted it. It was pretty cool. I won second place and I was one of three students to take their projects to the Marquette University Science Fair for display.
My dad had always told me to do my best. Settling for something was never an option. Never! Okay wasn’t good enough. All right wasn’t good enough. I had to do my best. Each time, every time. It was something that has been ingrained in me since the time I was born. For me, there isn’t any other option. No way!
This week, our school district had an Excellence Awards Reception for various employees. The Assistant Superintendent, a friend of mine, congratulated each of the honorees and in the course of her speech, talked about “And Then Some.”
It was in relation to not only doing their job, but in going above and beyond what was expected of them. Hence the idea of, And Then Some.
The custodian who not only cleans the building and fixes the AC or the leaky faucet, but befriends a boy who looks up to him. The teacher who buys stickers for her kids or candy for awards out of her own money, on her own, out of the goodness of her heart. The nurse who counsels a parent who is worried about her young daughter’s choices after her work day is done.
I think of the volunteers in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing who helped those in need. I think of the special education para who, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School, comforted a little boy as they both died in that horrific shooting. I think of the passing motorist who stopped his car and ran to help children in a car, while their mother tried to drown them and her.
All examples of And Then Some.
Because it is a daily, sometimes an hourly, choice to do one’s best, to not let things slide, to not settle for just getting it done, getting it over with. To rise above average, to rise above mediocrity, to give it your very, very best.
And sometimes, it just isn’t easy to do. Sometimes one gets tired, angry. Sometimes, one gets one more task on a plate that is already overloaded. Sometimes, one gets asked to do something by someone that is disagreeable, nasty, bossy, and who is recognized as a slacker. No, it isn’t easy.
But . . .
We can’t shy away from doing our best, from giving our best effort. And sometimes, that involves And Then Some. Because there is the satisfaction of knowing deep down in the recesses of our being, our soul, that we can look at a task, a job, a person- perhaps a child- and believe that we can and will make a difference by doing our best, going above And Then Some. And by our effort, our action, and the example of who we are and what we’ve done, we might create that same belief and action and effort in others. And if that happens, look out world. Our world. Something to think about . . .