Tag Archives: school

Old Path Home

Jennie tried the handle. It was locked. She shuffled back from the door, walked around to the side of the house, and reached for a flowerpot overflowing with petunias by the iron gate. She tucked her slender hands into the moist peat and pulled the pot from its nest.

There was no key.

She stared at the empty surface, feeling her heart speed faster in the late afternoon sun. Insects floated in the light breeze as she returned the pot, and, shouldering her book bag, walked slowly back to the unpainted road.

Jennie was small for her age, often mistaken for a grade school student when she was in reality entering the 8th grade. She stepped carefully around ruts in the sidewalk, walking slow to conserve her energy. The sun was beating down on her bare head. Unsure what else to do, she stepped off the sidewalk (it was crumbling anyway toward the dead end) and onto the worn foot trail down the hill.

The air was cooler by the creek, in the shade of the old willows. Jennie dropped her backpack in the dirt by a fragrant honeysuckle bush and sat down by the rippling water, shade creeping over from the far bank. She hugged her knees to her chest against the chill and watched the waterbugs dance around miniature waves.

Things hadn’t always been this way. Mother would have been home this time last year. He wouldn’t have been allowed to take the key. Mother hadn’t trusted him at first, but now, it seemed she listened to him more than her own daughter.

Jennie picked up a stone and sent it skipping off the shallows. Her pastime.

It would be long past dark before the sound of a car door jolted her awake, once she had finally found sleep on the cold, damp wood of the back porch.

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Quashed by Education

Remember starting a class or even a whole college career deeply excited about your area of interest? Some kids know where they want to go in life and what makes them tick before they even step into a post-secondary classroom. They’re ready to wrestle knowledge into submission and give their all to their chosen subject. Then, invariably, structured education gets in their way.

I started college knowing what I wanted to do. “Video and writing,” I told my advisor, every semester. I finished college with an increased appreciation for how much I disliked all the things I never got into because—surprise surprise—I really wasn’t interested in them. Undergraduate college is designed to give students a “broad educational foundation,” which it does. But by the time they begin college, a good number of students are mature enough to specialize.

“Education is about readiness for life, or to put it differently, education is about knowing what you need to know to live how you want to live.” – Joshua Spell

Real education is revelation. It’s uplifting, enchanting, fulfilling. It’s not a list of assignments, not motivated by a desire to please, not a burden. Real education is driven by curiosity. In the long term, self-driven education is the only kind there is.

educationsqueezelifeoutoflove

Something I found on Facebook.

Sand Through the Hourglass

There’s a habit people fall into when they’ve crammed too many activities into their lives, and that’s to keep their eyes on what’s right ahead of them and forget things as soon as they pass. This is what happens with my schoolwork—I focus on the six projects or so I have going at once and desperately try to remember everything (lock the door, catch the bus, do the homework, bring the homework, communicate with team, be there on time, don’t let them down, have time to help, X6, etc. etc.). I feel like the pinch point in an hourglass, trying to get everything to flow smoothly in the present by looking ahead to the near future and not having even a moment to contemplate the past.

Life’s too short for this.

Human beings aren’t made to be productive. There’s nothing we can do that God hasn’t done for us already. We’re made to celebrate being alive, to observe and rejoice and contemplate. Trying to squeeze as much into a life before the end because you’re afraid of wasting it really is a waste. Look back and see if anything’s there to remember. Maybe you were productive. Super-productive, even. Where does that get you?

It gets you a pile of inanimate projects to call your own, no sweet memories, little human connection, and always too rushed to answer a last-minute call for help.

God didn’t make us to work for him, a Divine Boss who pays us an hourly wage. He gave us more than we can ever earn. It’s not just ok to sit back and wonder, we’re made to sit back and wonder. To enjoy the small moments. To stop running, slow down, and be still.

Rosa

There are two rows of kids’ chairs, six long each, in the school library. But they’re not just chairs. These are bus seats from the 1950’s, and this is Rosa Parks’ bus. That there is Rosa Parks’ seat. That seat, ladies and gents, is mine.

I’m too young to see much of a difference between the real and imagined. To me, real is imaginary, and imaginary is real. I’m seven years old, and I take to the stage like duct tape to my hair. There’s no difference at all between playing the part and playing little old me. The world’s my stage, and the stage is my world.

Will you get out of your seat?” the policeman asks me, Rosa Parks.

No!” I tell him with dignity. And that is that.

Nine years later I’m back in a classroom. Three judges are staring me down from behind a table, so close I can almost feel them breathing. The timer, all six years of her, is staring at me as well. My stomach knots as I ask if they’re ready. And I begin to speak to them.

I’m not Rosa Parks anymore. I stutter, I stall, I shiver. I don’t throw up, like some newbies do. A hundred speeches later I learn that the judges stay behind the table. I’m safe. Only then do I throw all caution to the wind and share the depths of my heart with strangers, because this is what makes a good speech. Being comfortable with vulnerability. For me, that’s building an invisible wall.

Join a conversation with a real human being. There is no stage. There is no fourth wall. No screen between writer and reader, no table for judges to sit behind. This is face to face. Having outgrown the ability to work unshielded, I internalize the wall. It grows too close for anyone to pass through, except those who have the key.

On the inside of this wall is Rosa. Ready to take on the world.