School was back in session yesterday here in the Grand Valley. I could hear the laughter and excitement of young voices coming from the elementary school playground just a few hundred yards from my house. It is such a pleasant sound. A harbinger of fall. A soothing cacophony of delighted squeals and unbridled energy. One of life’s more welcome audio intrusions, like the sound of a far away train whistle in the dead of night or a muffled fog horn in a thick coastal dawn. It is the sound of innocence, hope and joy.
This is the same elementary school that my daughter attended in what seems like only a few years ago. Yet this morning I walked her to high school for the beginning of her senior year. She never seems to mind my company, and I am always happy to share that half mile of easy conversation and companionship. I know that all too quickly this opportunity will pass as she moves into college mode and adulthood. So I am intent on reveling in every minute we can spend together be it the daily school walk or curled up on the couch with her watching Mythbusters.
My senior year seemed so bumpy in comparison. I was uncertain of the future but knew that I did not want to participate in an “unpopular” war in southeast Asia (as if there could ever be a “popular” war….I dunno, maybe World War II if I had to pick). I was trying to grow my hair long like the Beatles. I was learning that marijuana was not going to make me into a drug addict. I was concerned about losing my virginity. And I was witnessing the rise of a youth culture intent upon being heard.
My daughter takes it all in stride. She ignores the awful for the enlightening. She delves into quirky science. And she questions the absurdity of this society. She is not an activist. She is a learner. An observer. She walks with me, holds my hand, and humors me in my old age. Yet it seems like only yesterday that one of those exuberant voices rising from the elementary school playground in the late summer air was hers. All those yesterdays that just keep piling up.