Extra Credit

by Mark Chmiel

When you arrive early to the classroom
Sit down get settled

Turn off your cell phone put it away
Take refuge in conscious breathing:

“Breathing in, I am calm.
Breathing out, I smile.”

Look with serene appreciation
On your classmates

Including those who can’t do
Without their cell phones

You see them
They don’t see you

You smile at them
They miss your beautiful smile

You may do it
For six minutes

Or 20 seconds
It’s all good

Yes you can do this before
Each and every class

You will get enormous extra credit
Accumulating steadily

Not in the form of mere “points”
But in that unquantifiable

Sine qua non that will always be with you
Wherever you are whatever you’re doing

The extra credit
That is profound presence

––from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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