Click here: A soundtrack for your reading pleasure.
“I share my name with an aerobatic bird that can whiz across a whole summer sky in seconds. A swift is so equipped for speed that it can scarcely cope with being stationary.”
What I Did . . .
Upon returning to school, tepid heat hanging overhead like fists pressing against skin, teachers had asked us to write that death knell of an “essay” where one by one, students would stand before the class and outdo the others with tales of frolicking and adventure in some exotic place or another. As every word from monotone voices sustained and dripped like sweat in the stagnant bungalow air, most of us were still riding bikes, climbing neighborhood hills, making out with a new crush, swimming in pools, having sleepovers watching horror movies.
. . . on My . . .
But, no, they decided that we didn’t get to move on and begin with exploration of The New World, dissecting frogs, converting fractions into decimals or creating still life drawings where you get charcoal all over your hands.
Like a sunburned tourist, we were overexposed to the school district’s preoccupation with looking back before putting into motion the wheels of providing us with an elite public-school education.
. . . Summer Vacation
Notice the verb “Did”; in retrospect, that set the tone. Where one’s family traveled to was certainly critical to the paper, but more so, the measure by any means was the doing. Fishing at an alpine lake, standing at Four Corners, walking the New York City streets during sweltering heat waves when most people did not have AC at the time, hanging at the beach, riding the incline railway to near the top of Pike’s Peak, parties, family reunions, Europe, Disneyland, plunging into a teal river’s deep chilly pool.
Titling the essay along the lines of “What I Discovered about Myself on My Summer Vacation”; now that would have held some water. Isn’t that what learning’s supposed to be: an internal examination of how we process the external information coming at us at light speed?
Nah, the schools, parents, students, professors, employers didn’t care much about feelings.
I’ll say it again.
America has this beguiling propensity toward aversion of others’ feelings. As if opening up is a no talking zone.
What I Discovered . . .
This can be seen in any given moment when a person asks another What do you do?
A cultural more, tradition even, yet doesn’t this infernal office party question really represent our constant measuring tape that gauges our societal position? Anthropologists can cite this when we were barely standing erect: Where exactly do I belong in the group?
. . . about Myself on . . .
Perhaps then, we’ve had it all wrong this entire time. I for one when I taught constantly asked my students to examine their feelings, their morality, their values. The tools I used to get them there were literature, current events, applied math, outdoor education, journal writing, historical reenactments, debates. Now much of this is common practice in the more progressive school districts.
There you will find students actually looking forward to those back-to-school sales.
Summer, known for it being a time to escape, can also be a time for reflection.
. . . My Summer Vacation
Here are a few ideas to inspire you with a click of your mouse:
“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”