Saturday afternoon, I’m walking with an acquaintance on the trails behind the high school, talking about public education. How is education changing? What’s happening?
Beneath a maple, we stop and talk for a little. I tell her about my youngest daughter, who’s 16 and at a place of reflection, asking, Who am I? Where is my life going? Writing made me realize how easily we drift into one life or another, drawn along by circumstances and the people surrounding us. How easily we fall into what seems like a good idea, a fad that might define us.
What seems like a hundred years ago when I was an undergraduate at Marlboro College, someone painted Know Thyself on the sidewalk beside the dining hall. Listening to my daughter as I go about doing my same old things — washing dishes or making dumplings or knitting a hat for a Christmas present — I realize I’m witnessing her small adolescent pack struggle with this same old question made completely brand-new for each of these young people. I’m riveted.
On the trail, a flock of geese flies so low I hear their wings flapping. On our way back to the school, I keep thinking about those geese.
One can claim that growing up… means abandoning magical thinking for rational thinking, yet one can also maintain that nothing should be abandoned, that what is true on one floor of the mind may not be true on another, but that one must live on every floor of the mind, from the cellar to the attic.”— Emmanuel Carrère, Lives Other Than My Own