Hello Dear Readers
I am substitute teaching today. It is so “fun” being in a high school. Friends get together, then they get significant others, then they break up; this person slighted that other person, this freshman is a-twitter because that Junior smiled at her; some students are juggling amazing schedules full of athletics, academics and after-school activities while other students putter along and do what is necessary to graduate. All along the backdrop of prom, senior projects, graduation this amazing vortex of young life pulses and whirls around any adult lucky enough to witness several teenagers put in one place to grow up together, and, in some cases, in spite of their circumstances.
As I listened sympathetically to some students and laughed in delight with other students, I thought about my own life, my own friendships, that even adults have seasons where they make friends, and then sometimes, these friends grow apart. Significant others come together or break apart. Sometimes a work environment can come together, grow apart, perhaps come together again. Sometimes it is because of the military that some families grow apart and have to find ways to keep connected. Sometimes it is because of poor economic growth that other families find themselves living in 2 different parts of the country, figuring out how to keep their lives joined despite the geographic separation.
The question, then, is how does one navigate the regular seasons of life? How does one grow through the twists and turns that a life will present and still function in the process?
I turned to some classic literature for guidance.
“Little Woman” by Louisa May Alcott suggests that when you have a loving family, nothing can keep you down forever (enter your definition of family here; personally I have adopted and biological family and ascribe to the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child).
“The Three Musketeers” by Alexander Dumas suggested that teamwork, confidence in one’s one identity and faith were as necessary to surviving and thriving in uncharted waters as ambition and developing a keen eye to find opportunity.
“The Last Trail” by Zane Grey describes a village, carving its existence of what was then the Ohio frontier, protected by Bordermen, nurtured by their leader and the womenfolk, and tended to by the menfolk. It describes an entire village coming together, once strangers, but later tightly bonded because of the kinship which comes from shared experiences.
Sun Zu, in “The Art of War”, describes absolute confidence in oneself as knowing how to traverse the pitfalls of adult life. He opined that in order to be fresh and full of vigor, one must also be present, mindful and open to accessing information about the environment around you. In this way, he said, you can never be surprised, but will always be prepared.
Although it is not classical literature, I have recently become a convert to the “Twilight” series. I am not overly fond of vampires, however, I appreciate the the inclusion that was evident in the series. It described how teenagers (how difficult it is to be a teenager!) can come together, across centuries and across ethnic boundaries, to support and defend very concrete concepts: family, love, friendship, and fighting the good fight for a better future.
As I reflect on my day substitute teaching at high school, I appreciate our small town more than I usually do. That it is a village, and we do come around each other in times of joy and times of sorrow. Families connect, break up, and re-connect again, just the same as in other places. However, I feel that what makes our little village so special is the knowledge that if we need a quick pick-me-up, we need only go to the store and chat with the cashiers, or go to the post office or gym and visit with other nice people. It can certainly mean the difference between a day of crippling grief and a day that became tolerable.
Photo credit: Roltirirang via Deviant Art, Creative Commons Licence 3.0