Down at the Ol’ School House

Today is the first day of classes for many students, young and old, who are embarking on a new chapter of their education (including my sister!  Good Luck A-B!). I am not one of them, yet I still see the Tuesday after Labour Day as the beginning of something new. For me this date, much more than January 1st, signals the promise of a new day and of new possibilities. I guess that makes sense since I have been a student for more years of my life than not, and as a student I always experienced a giddy mix of anxiety and excitement the first time I stepped foot in a high school corridor or on a university campus for the year.

In retrospect, the years within one particular institution seem to flow together with very few distinguishing features, but I suppose it was the feeling of possibility that made the first week or so very intoxicating and exciting. I remember even in my 6th year of university walking into every new lecture hoping for some new and entirely different experience. Unfortunately, the more lectures one attends, the more one realizes they are all pretty much clones of each other. Yes, there are good profs and bad profs who make the subject matter exciting or dull, but at the end of the day the same schema is being observed—2% excitement over a new idea or interesting presentation, otherwise a fairly dull 98% of note-taking, and, on my part anyway, crossword-solving.

And yet, I miss it. At least I was learning. Perhaps that is what the excitement was all about for me…because even though it is a rare 2%, sometimes my mind was challenged in ways that still linger with me years later. Sometimes the instructor or a fellow student can make things that you knew for sure seem like mere conjecture in a span of minutes. I suppose that is what I miss the most. Although the experience could occur on the last day of school – it was the first week of school that possessed the anticipation of such events to a palatable degree. The 9-5 experience has no such excitement for me…no such promise of a challenge to my world view or the possibility of a new idea taking root in my mind that will blossom into something that changes me as a person over the months to come. Yep, university, and even the rare high school class was that profound for me.

So, on this first day that signals the beginning of a new chapter for so many students across Canada I can’t help but feel jealous. It makes me sad that for many, this time is one of dread and loathing, when for me (at least in hindsight) it was one of great development and self-exploration. I am hoping that I can harness the residual excitement of that first week of school that I am experiencing today and use it to search out some new ideas or make some lofty goals based on my optimism of what the next few months can bring. And, as anyone who has ever been a student and can share my optimism about the near future knows, I need to get this going ASAP because those midterm ‘blahs’ set in pretty quickly.

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