2016 was a year of extreme highs and devastating lows. It was a time for new and exciting opportunities as well as painful goodbyes. The sun shone brightly, but the wind howled bitterly, too. 2016 made me ask tough questions of humanity, of myself. Why does evil seem to win at an alarming rate? How could we let such atrocities happen? What is my place in this often cruel world? What can I do? How can I help?
The memory of climbing the steps of the school bus, looking down the aisle of seats packed with students, knowing not a soul, and hoping with every fiber of my being that someone would make room for me is still quite clear. Don’t worry. I haven’t continued to wake up in cold sweats over it. Those ended last year. Kidding aside, though, I think we can all agree that being a kid is difficult. From the school bus to the playground to the cafeteria, challenges abound.
This morning started out like any other as I arrived at school. While booting up the computer and pouring myself a cup of coffee, I reflected on the warm up question kids would tackle as they funnelled into my classroom in just a few minutes. We had been discussing the Enlightenment the past week with names like Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire dominating the conversation. As I was about to put the question up on the board, I suddenly decided to rework it.
I find that in life, people tend to sag in the middle. When young, you are empowered by vision and dreams to be anything and conquer the yet to be tested unknown world. Naive yes, but don’t you miss those times of limitless aspiration and wide open vistas of opportunity? In the latter stages of life, people seem to reclaim that exuberance. Dreams and passions long delayed return. The vigor of better-late-than-never serves to make buoyant once more those pursuits previously deferred.
I know that if I look, I will see children growing up in circumstances that children should never experience. I will see parents making impossible choices that parents should never have to make. If I look, I know that I will feel. I will be heartbroken.
The car was on, heat blasting, as the dashboard thermostat read 11 degrees. I threw the bags in the trunk and ran back inside to get some respite from the cold. Why hadn’t I grabbed my coat before hurrying outside to start the car and wake it from its overnight freeze? I called upstairs to my daughter in my normal, frantic, is it really that time already fashion.