Today I waited patiently on my way to a meeting with a new coaching client as the first sight of a school crossing guard for the new year became visible. She walked across the road holding up her sign and then signaled for the students to then cross. Each taking their turn, excited yet cautious for the day to begin. Another school year upon them. How very special!
I paused with coffee in my hand, turned the sports talk radio volume down on the dial, and simply watched these kids. They all looked so young. Time has certainly gone by for me as those days are long in the rearview mirror by now. Thankfully though, they are still fresh in my mind. And a reality, with my two boys still. Those initial days of the school year were so special to me back then. I could see the exact same enthusiasm in the kids walking by. Such a time of innocence and laughter.
My older son Aryn used to absolutely love the first day of school. I recall many a time how excited he would be the night before the new year began. He became extremely chatty and constantly reminded his mother and me how much he had been looking forward to the morning to arrive. For a kid who really for the most part hated waking up, the first day was always different. There always seemed to be some kind of renewed purpose, to start anew and get back into a fall routine again.
He would wait by the front door, all ready to go. Always about fifteen or twenty earlier than he needed to be. All clean, dressed up in a carefully planned outfit spread out thoughtfully the night before. The wrinkles were still evident from where it had been folded at the store. Aside from the excitement the holidays brought, it always seemed to one of his other favorite days during the entire year.
Such a simple thing to find pleasure in, to wake up and head back to the same building that housed your friends. But boy as kids, we all cherished that first day. The fascination we all had in comparing class schedules with one another and trying to decipher in our own basic poorly structured manner, who in terms of other close friends might also be in the same classes. It was all just so incredible back then. If there had been a cute girl or two in class, even better.
In those days (I sound old at 52), life was as it should have been for a kid. An incredible time of wonder where all things are possible and dreams still had the potential to come true. If you sat in class and learned about space, you could visualize in your mind becoming an astronaut one day. In music class a famous Rockstar, and on the playground a professional sports hero. For a kid, the future possibilities are endless to one day capture for your own. Then you grow up, and life kicks you back to reality.
Time has passed now, so much in life has become clearer, and the stories each of us can tell about our own individual life journey, quite prolific. Some more dramatic in nature than others, but all equal in terms of importance. If you take a moment to think back to your first day of school and grade it doesn’t matter. Consider the person who you were back then and the dreams you had for your life. How many of them came true?
The reality of today is; none of that stuff matters. Dreams are just that, a way for us to allow our minds to wander to a special place where we are each afforded the opportunity to rule the event. They are nothing more. But everything else too, in the same breath. They begin at childhood but remain with us for our entire life. Perhaps the little reminder when we need it most, telling us that anything is still possible. I’ll take the little voice any day.
Each of us since our first days of school have faced adversity of some sort in our lives. It is a part of our journey together. It is just the more difficult part we never seem to find a comfortable place to house in our minds. Like dreams, adversity has a place too.
For some, it has since become all too real. Dramatically changing an otherwise well-conceived life plan.
I continued to watch the kids walk by the car, backpacks too big for their tiny body frames to even safely proceed with any confidence to not eventually falling back. Aryn was the exact same way, his was absolutely huge. Whatever was in that thing on day one I have no idea, but it was all necessary to have. It is just what you did on the first of the new school year.
The compassionate reflective side of me considers the plight of the little boy walking alone across the walk without another classmate near him. His first-day memories different than most, sadly nothing special. He proceeds to school because he has to. Hoping perhaps this might be the first year that he is able to fit in with the others and actually enjoy being there. For his sake, I too hope for that.
I was fortunate to remain in the car waiting just long enough for the kids to finishing crossing as the school bell rang off in the distance to my right. The children all hurried in droves making their way to the front door to begin their new school year. Finally.
The joy in the children’s faces will be indelible throughout mine today for most of it. I have been brought back. Taken away from what I do, from the reality that is my life and briefly transported in time.
For a few brief moments, I would swear I actually saw myself walk by.
Where have I been all these years?