94. Beginnings

Beginnings can be fun. They can also be scary and disorienting, but that’s not what this article is about. If you watch people at the beginnings of careers, school years, or romances, you are likely to see eager, excited faces. At beginnings, major mistakes haven’t been made, reputations haven’t been formed, and all things seem possible. That’s one of the reasons beginnings are celebrated, and remembered fondly.
Another reason beginnings are celebrated is that they’re easier to pinpoint. It’s easier to celebrate the fact that on July 4, 1776 there was a declaration of independence from England than to celebrate the fact that on September 26, 1933, we were still not a group of English colonies. Or to celebrate the day you were born, rather than August 8, 1995, a day when you were still alive. Though I now have time to enjoy and celebrate each day, before I retired I mostly celebrated beginnings.
If you’re a child, some time around the end of August or the beginning of September, the school year begins. Notebooks are neat, and there are no wrinkles or smudges on the pages inside. Pencils are long and sharp. The graphic designs on lunch boxes and notebooks may remind you of the movie you saw last month. You may have heard some things about the grade you’re beginning, or the teacher, but you’re free to form your own opinion.
If you’re a teacher, you have fresh, new materials that no children have marked or lost. Bulletin boards that show children and parents what a neat, thoughtful, sensitive teacher you are. You haven’t made any mistakes yet, and even the most severe critics are waiting, giving you some time to show that this year, you’ll be a better teacher. There isn’t one need you haven’t noticed, and you’ve responded appropriately every time.
And if you’re a parent, you have a new chance to show that you can indeed be there for your child. When your child leaves for school, you have time to make sure your child is really ready. When your child comes home, you are ready to listen. Perhaps you hear some things you don’t like, as the children and teachers may have heard things they’d rather not hear, but it is a new year, and all things are possible – even compromise.
So what if later you find out that the new romance, job, or school year isn’t quite what you thought it would be? The beginning is a special time to be treasured, remembered, and maybe occasionally emulated. It’s nice to take fresh looks once in a while.

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