School starts for my kids in a week. One week from today! My daughter starts third grade and my son starts KINDERGARTEN, which just seems ridiculous. Time flies, they say. Time doesn’t fly—it rockets. It races. It’s relentless. It leaves me saying wait, Wait, WAIT!!! I can’t catch up with them growing older; I can't catch up with life passing by; I can’t catch up with any of it.
We went back-to-school shopping last weekend and as our cart began filling up with two sets of notebooks, glue sticks, pencils, and more, I remembered a post I wrote a few Augusts ago, in 2012—before my kids were even school age.
I love pencils. Freshly sharpened, classic #2 pencils. I love the smell of a freshly-sharpened pencil. I love the way a sharp pencil feels on a thick, new notebook. I love the way you can erase away anything you don’t like with a pencil. I love the way pencils will smudge my fingers. I love the eraser dust that fills the page.
Fresh pencils also bring with them all of the feelings of back-to-school. Here in Indiana, the dawn of a new school year is already upon us: School buses are shining in the August sun, kids are fresh pressed in their back-to-school outfits, stores are filled with school supplies. I have to resist the urge to gobble up all the pencils, glue sticks, notebooks, and highlighters gleaming in storefront windows… to me, back-to-school time screams “Fresh Start!”
As a kid, I always loved back-to-school time. For all of the above-mentioned back-to-school supplies and back-to-school outfits (I still remember with love a pair of pin-striped blue jeans from elementary school), and also for all the possibilities that lie ahead. A whole school year, at the ready. New classes, new teachers, perhaps a new hallway or a new locker. New friends? Maybe.
What would I be? What would I do? What would happen?
For me, back-to-school time exemplifies the chance to begin again, even more than the ringing in of a new year. As kids we are given a literal re-set button each August or September when we collect all those fresh pencils, papers, and pin-striped blue jeans and climb back on that bus. As adults, though, we have to remember that we can do that too – re-set our own re-set buttons, start anew.
So, it’s fresh start time. Why not get a gloriously freshly sharpened pencil and a new notebook and think about what possibilities the fresh start just might usher in for you.
What are the possibilities that lie ahead?
Oh, I still remember those pin-striped jeans... with pleated fronts, no less. And now that my kids are school aged, I am watching them have this opportunity. To reset. To form new friendships, to learn new things, to share themselves with the world. To find their own version of a treasured pair of pin-striped jeans.
And I’m thinking about it for me, and for us, as well. As we embark on one of our most interesting election seasons yet, as our world feels divided in so many ways, it seems that this August is as vital a time as any other to imagine what possibilities lie ahead. To reset. To think about a fresh start. To stop desperately shouting wait, Wait, WAIT!!!! to all that time is sending hurtling past us and instead say yes, Yes, YES!!! Just yes.
How can you say YES today?
“A Fresh Start to a New School Year: Possibilities that Lie Ahead”, The Leadership Program, 2016