I know it’s not really the New Year but it always feels that way to me. Labor Day Weekend has always signaled the end of the summer season, the start of a new year and the first day back to school.
As a child, Labor Day Weekend, in the seaside community I grew up in, meant our precious shorelines were now free of visitors and we could resume our normal lives, playing kings of the sand dunes and riding our bikes down once again deserted roads! There were also new shoes for school, a lunch box, unsharpened pencils, new teachers and new friends. By high school there were new outfits, a new locker and a new boy sitting behind me in homeroom. By the time I was the mom, there were weeks of school shopping for lots and lots of little outfits and necessary accessories for my whole crew. I have always loved school and my children always loved school too, a whole new year full of adventures still unimagined.
Every school year is a fresh start. It’s a chance to finally meet those goals; make that team, get that grade or win the attention of someone long sought after. If only life itself offered up new chances, every fall. If only yearly we had the chance to do it all over, try again, start fresh. If only life’s questions were so easy, the progress measured in grades for effort and behavior as well as end result. I never got upset with a low grade on a child’s report card as long as their grade for effort showed they had tried their very best! Couldn’t life be that understanding with us!?
Yet, in life, while the end results are not always so clear, each year, each day, does offer a new chance to look at things differently, to work harder, and to strive for a better outcome. There are still challenges to be faced. There are still lessons to be learned, every day, if we are open to looking for them.
My children are all adults now but this past week has almost all of them starting college classes again. Each one has stopped by or called with news of new professors, busy schedules and outrageously expensive books.
This year has found me also, once again, starting school as well, sitting in a poetry class full of fellow students, every single one of them young enough to be one of my own children. Ah, a new textbook, spine still unbroken and a bright new notebook, pages waiting to be filled!
As an adult, going back to school is one of the most optimistic things you can do. It is a choice now. No one makes you do it any longer. Going back to school as an adult means admitting you don’t know everything. It means you are willing to listen and willing to question the way you’ve always done things. It means you are willing to open yourself up to new ideas and new challenges. I’m here, I’m willing. Happy New Year!