Time passing is one of the few certainties I know. Starting the day you are born your “life clock” starts ticking not just for yourself, but for all who know you as well. Your birth starts a ripple of existence in an ocean of many, many others. It doesn’t take long before we are wrapped up in the throngs of our routines and dreams, and we set our sight on other things, remembering only occassionally the constant “tick tock” in the background.
Those moments we do remember that ticking clock can be some of the most incredible moments of our lives, because they are usually triggered by big events, like starting a new grade in school or college, a marriage, becoming a parent, losing a loved one or taking care of a health issue of a friend or our own.
It wasn’t that long ago, (or maybe it was!) that I was having conversations that ranged from diapers to diplomas! Like most of us, I try not to yake life for granted and live in the moment. What I’ve learned about the outcome of being successful in that way is that you collect more moments than those who haven’t yet learned the joy of appreciating the smallest of details that happen daily in the smallest of ways. What do we do with all of these collected “living-in-the-moment” moments? Well, nothing really. But I think when we do make living in the moment a habit, we are happier than those who don’t. It’s not a contest! Some of us also have such deep emotional scars from taking more than our fair share of hard knocks, we’d rather not archive the atrocities that are not dispersed equally among us. Ideally what we hope is that we forget the memories, but keep the lessons.
I’ve been a dad for twenty years now. I have two incredible sons. I’ve loved and laughed and cried and hurt. I’ve made some really smart decisions in my life, and some aweful one’s, too! I’ve taught kids, especially my own, which is my single biggest pride in life. I am most definitely a collector of both memories and lessons! 🙂
Having been a teacher and invested a good portion of my life to public education, I tend to frame my memories in that context. Rarely has there ever been anything in my life more important than education, either my own or that of others.
It’s the end of the summer here in beautiful Minnesota, and the start of a new school year. Most students have no idea what this year is going to bring to them. Nor do the teachers! But it’s exciting! So many opportunities to learn new things, make new friends, and make mistakes – which in my humble opinion is the BEST part about learning! I am genuinely excited for every student, teacher, custodian, administrator, paraprofessional, food service personel… everyone! No school year is ever a repeat of the one before it, and it’s a rush to know that all of these people are about to embark on a nine-month journey that can ONLY manifest itself in their collective efforts.
Whether it’s pre-school, elementary, middle or high school, or college and beyond, I enourage every single one of you to bookmark your lives by daily moments rather than years. You – yes YOU! The one reading this! Pay attention. Smile a lot. Keep an open mind. Be polite. Say thank you… a lot! Work hard. Accept criticism positively. Have fun! Appreciate everyone who makes it posible for you to get an education – including all who came before you. Stay positive – so much energy is wasted on the other. Seek magic in teeny tiny things. Help others. Lead more than you follow, but do both. Expect to fail and for God’s sake friends, cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to fail! Redefine that word, “fail.” Why? The road to any success will lead you right through challenge, confusion, heartache, frustration, and stress. No worries, my friends. That’s life. That’s a gift. Most importantly, you only think you bare the responsibility of controlling those things. You don’t. No, really… you don’t. You control your response to those moments – nothing more. And that is really good news!
When I think of my own two sons, one in his final year of college and the other in his final year in high school, they are (in all of the important ways) going to do the exact same thing they have done every year since they started going to school:
Pay attention. Smile a lot. Keep an open mind. Be polite. Say thank you… a lot! Work hard. Accept criticism positively. Have fun! Stay positive. Appreciate everyone who made it posible for you to get an education – including all who came before you. Seek magic in teeny tiny things…every day. Expect and embrace the gift of “failure.” Control only what they can. Help others. Lead more than they follow.
And you know what I’m going to do? The exact same thing.
So here you go world! Here you go schools and employers and strangers! We are here – together, and we are ready! And hey world, two of these are my beloved sons that I have adored and treasured forever. Please be kind back to them. Please love them for who they are. Please pardon their mistakes as they continue to learn and grow. Please never undervalue them, and never underestimate them. They are young, but they have lived a good chunk of their lives before they ever met you. We’ve done and we are doing our best to raise them. And the one thing I can promise you, world, is that whatever you give to them – they will give it back to you… x 100.