It’s the first week of classes here and we’re off to a rip-roaring start with Fall term, and I, for one, am ready for it! The temperature is dropping, the leaves on the trees are starting to turn vivid colors, the light evenings are gradually darkening, and I am thinking about Halloween candy. (Oh that dreaded Halloween candy!) Indeed, Fall is in the air.
The interesting thing about this whole “back to school” sensation for me is that I always stop and think about what I did on my summer vacation. This practice was ingrained in me as an elementary and junior high student, and I’ve carried that autumnal sense of reflection into my adulthood. So while I didn’t really get a summer “off,” I did a lot of things this summer that were new experiences for me. If you’ve been reading this blog, you have a sense of those experiences, and what I’ve learned from them.
I also did a lot of things this summer that were new experiences for my kid Mac (now 21 months old), and in some ways, those were way more meaningful to me than the things I did that were new to me. I am experiencing the shift in how I see: while I think I’ve become quite skilled at seeing things from others’ perspectives, it’s a new experience for me to see life through my own child’s eyes.
EXAMPLE: THE BEACH
Mac LOVED the beach. Having grown up in San Diego and spent (too) many hours baking my skin by the Southern California surf, I guess I took the beach for granted. But Mac? He was ready to conquer the beach. Give the boy a surfboard, put on some Beach Boys tunes, find some seaweed to play with and he would be a happy camper for hours. For days!
Waves? Who wants to get all salty and wet? (Mac does!)
Too much sun? Let’s go inside! (Mac says NO!)
Sand? It’s just messy and scratchy. (Not in Mac’s world!)
Through his eyes, I now see the beach differently.
I see, for example, that while there were 10,000 footprints we left in the sand, each one was more interesting than the last and was thus worthy of our intense examination. I am glad we stopped to examine them: to think about their shape, about how our feet made their impressions, about how the sand moved under our toes and allowed us room to move forward. Or backward. Or sideways!
As I jump headfirst into Fall term and all that will happen to me in the next school year — in my courses, conferences, committee meetings, and departmental duties — I will try to carry with me the sense and thrill of the oh-so-new experiences that Mac had on the beach this summer. I will try to remember to stop, enjoy, examine, reflect, play, and maybe even scream and cry a bit. I will try to remember to be brave, to not let those big ones coming at me wipe me out! I will also remember the pure joy of what it was like to go for a walk in the Pacific waves and to feel the cool salty water swirling around my ankles. I’ve experienced that a gazillion times in my life, but only this past summer did I feel it. I felt it through Mac.