Here in Seattle we’re turning into summer and I feel a lingering pull to slow down and reflect, a pull captured powerfully by Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” that ends with the lines:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I spent much of the first 50 years of my life in schools first as a student, then a teacher, then an administrator. I miss the seasonal rhythm of school: starting with a bang in the autumn, working hard through the winter, bringing it to a finale in spring before closing up shop for the summer. I believe this rhythm tracks deeper natural patterns encoded in all of us through a thousand generations of having to be attuned to the cycles of the seasons.
The end of the school year is bittersweet for me:
- a promise of freedom and a change of pace,
- the loss of ending a year and saying goodbyes,
- the very hard work and long days of exams, finishing coursework, grading, report cards, graduations, and
- the jarring transition from 12 hour days to being able to sleep in and not have a thing I have to do.
That day after the term ends and the students and staff head home for summer break was always a reflective time for me:
- sadness and relief together as such an intense community experience ended,
- pain about what I’d failed to do
- celebration as to what I’d accomplished and
- anticipation as to what I might do the next year.
As a nonprofit leader for many years now, I often wonder when this school year will ever come to an end!
With acknowledgment to all those in the global south who are turning into winter, join me.
How do you experience this time of the year?
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”