As some of you may have noticed, I have been AWOL for a couple of weeks, and I can tell you exactly where I have been.
In my car.
The Kids (tm) are back in school, you see, and alas, are in two different school districts, which meant, ladies and gentlemen, that I have been cursed to a half-life in a minivan, carting children, visiting teachers, meeting with speech pathologists, tracking down school supplies, buying lunchbox items, meeting with the principal, showing up for band auditions, then choir auditions, then soccer try-outs, and coaching Lego Robotics.
Uff. Just writing that made me tired. Sometimes I feel like I'm carrying the whole world on my back.
Slowly but surely I've negotiated some time periods in which I can work, which means that soon - hopefully - life can return to something vaguely resembling normal.
In the meantime, I'd like to discuss an issue that has been itching at the back of my brain, particularly as I watch my oldest child start Middle School and my youngest child start Kindergarten, and it is this: The Jedi Code.
There's a lot a kid starting Middle School - or Kindergarten, for that matter - can learn from the experience of the Padawans of old. In fact, I'm starting to think that the first Jedis came by their clear-eyed vision of the universe after first spending time in the madness of Middle School. Because if you can survive that with your sanity intact, you can survive anything.
Tenant #1: Emotion, yet peace: Pity the Middle Schooler - at the cusp of puberty, their bodies hijacked, their minds on fire, their parents super-lame and their siblings suddenly the most annoying creatures on the planet. They are at the mercy of their emotions, but their emotions are tricky, slippery and sly - faking them out and sucker punching them without warning. The sixth-grade-Jedis-in-training are desperate for knowledge. They hunger, they yearn, they thirst for the world, and yet they fear the world as well. And then - then! - they have to say goodbye to their friends and teachers in their small, comfortable elementary schools and dive into the cold, unfeeling and industrial bowels of a middle school. No wonder they're all a bunch of lunatics. The first tenant of the Jedi code tells the Middle Schooler/Padawan not to ignore their emotions. Indeed, emotions are part of who we are. Instead, the sixth-grade-jedi-in-training is encouraged to step back from their emotions, to be able to see them with a critical eye. The goal is not to simply feel our emotions, but to understand them. And when we understand our own emotions, we will never be ruled by them - and that's the first step towards becoming a real Jedi.
Tenant #2 Ignorance, yet Knowledge This is probably the most important rule for the sixth-grade Jedi. The path of the Jedi is the path of understanding. The world - like the Middle School where the Jedi-in-training must spend her day - is vast, complicated and confusing. And here's the thing about ignorance: It's easy to be ignorant!. Why do you think the world abounds with ignorant folks foaming at the mouth? This is true on the radio, this is true in politics and in our jobs, and it's really, really true in Middle School. The Jedi must choose understanding, must choose Knowledge. And we come to a place of knowledge not only from our teachers, but also by seeking to understand all the people around us. And once we achieve understanding, we are well on our way towards Jedi-dom.
Next week: Passion!