Back to school…….

Since I was 5 years old, my year has begun in September. And since I have spent my entire adult life either as a student or a professor in a university, decades later that still holds true.

September is a new beginning……

As a college professor – I love the beginning of the academic year. Now I am a mom, and today is the first day of school for my girls. Our day began with the chaos of breakfast and backpacks, routine and rushing.

Psychologically and spiritually – it’s like a cleanse for the soul. In contrast, New Year’s Eve (Dec 31) largely consists of bad parties, regrettable drinking, or just plain loneliness. That so called calendar driven fresh start consists of hangovers, holiday bills and hopeless diets.

But September is different. As kids it was new teachers, new desks, fresh notebooks, fresh starts. True reinvention. You could vow to read every word. Try to be a cheerleader. Get all A’s. Be someone new. Summer often erased past mistakes. We don’t get enough of those chances.

Simply – it’s hope.

Since time immemorial – September has been a time of harvest – of crops being pulled, feasts, shorter days. The transition is palpable. And as I watched my girls pack their backpacks with new pencils, put on their new sneakers, and express anxiety about new teachers and new chances – it was like watching the rendering of a brand new drawing – I have no idea how it will turn out and that is the magic. It was a harvest – of taking on the new, and letting go of the old.

We talked this morning about how change is good even though it is scary. And though anxiety characterized the drive to school – ultimately, they ran out of the car gleefully.

The verdict at pickup time: We love school (I have no doubt a revisionist opinion will be delivered by week’s end).

They made me excited about starting my Fall teaching again. Cracking the textbooks. Writing exams. Learning my students’ viewpoints, imparting my own. Meeting new students. A fresh start for me. For my students. A harvest. Were it not for the pay, there are few more wonderful jobs than being a professor – you are always surrounded by curiosity, by transition, by youth – not just chronologically, but the youth that comes from wanting to grow and wanting to learn.

TS Eliot writes “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” Every September is an end and a beginning. A chance to learn new words and let go of some old ones.

So even if you are not a student – take heed from the millions of children and adults going back to school. Change, grow, try something new, celebrate something old – and find your new voice.

Happy new year!


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 9:47 pm and is filed under Health and Wellness, Parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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