Fin takes a ride on the peas train
About a year-and-a-half ago I joined the school board of this small town (pop. 220-something) for reasons that pretty much boil down to the fact that I was asked. I might have declined, but I was new to town and wanting to make a favorable impression, and maybe even figured something good might come of it, if not for the community, then at least in relation to this idea I’ve long had that some day I’ll roust myself into being of service to a cause greater than myself.
Frankly, I’m not a great school board member; I’m too easily frustrated by the layers of bureaucracy, overwhelmed by the reams of paper and endless numbers. It all seems so incredibly and needlessly complex, though it’s not like I’ve got any better ideas of how to do it. Once upon a time I might have thought I did, but the older I get the less I seem to know, which is exactly the opposite of how I thought getting older was supposed to work. Sometimes I think of all the years I’ve spent looking forward to the wisdom I thought was due me, and here I am, still looking to collect.
Because our town is so small, we don’t have a school of our own; instead, the town pays tuition at the accredited institution of choice. This has allowed our older son to attend school part-time, through a self-designed study program at a high school about 30-minutes from here. It’s been good for him, I think. He built an electric guitar with an amazing builder in Burlington who also happens to be a published author and whose father is the former Vermont Poet Laureate, which really has nothing to do with anything, but kinda strikes my fancy. He studied climate justice with an activist friend of ours. He did a bunch of other stuff, too, centered mostly around music.
I never figured one of my children would want to attend school, and this was foolish of me. Not so much in the specifics – attend school, not attend school – but in my lack of awareness of how profoundly things can change, and how quickly. As someone said to me recently, we are always arising in fields of contingencies. I like this saying, in part because I know it to be true, and in part because it acknowledges what could be seen as a difficult truth (life is unpredictable/changeable/uncertain) in a very gracious and even graceful way. I mean, one could say something like life is unpredictable/changeable/uncertain and you just have deal with it, which would also be true, but to me isn’t quite the same as saying we are always arising in fields of contingencies.
I thought about this last night as I bucked firewood, the daylight draining from the sky. The last day of July. Then, suddenly, surprisingly, it was raining, and I could see the sun behind it, that beautiful, slanting, late day sun, the raindrops illuminated like a million little light bulbs in the sky. I was soon soaked through and on the verge of being cold, so I worked harder, but the rain quickened its pace, and I could not seem to outwork it, and now I was truly cold. So I shut down the saw and put it away, shucked my rain-and-sweat-wet clothes, and ran for the pond to rinse myself clean, the pile of still-uncut firewood left for another day.
Music: Daniel Johnston. Must be seen to be fully appreciated.