By Laura Moore

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Glancing at my social media pages this morning, I couldn't help but be inspired as I gazed at the beaming mugs of children posing for first day pictures, showing off spiffed up threads, eager grins and signs bearing the name of their teacher and the grade they are about to enter.

Those images always wet my eyes when I consider the significance of the moment they capture, when I think about what the next 186 school days will hold for the children smiling for the camera.

As those kids stand on their front porch, or in the hallway, or on the lawn of their school, each of them is hovering on the precipice of a new beginning, a new chance, a new set of rules, a new batch of challenges and a new well of opportunities. They are poised for adventure--for the next leg of their journey--toes propped and ready to carry them forward where they will engage in work and play that will help them build, rebuild, create and recreate.

Over 186 school days, they will embrace new skills as they learn how to assign words to ideas, manipulate numbers, ask questions, create beauty, generate sounds or connect their present to the past. And their experiences will press them to widen and deepen both their minds and their hearts each time they are called to unearth their sometimes sturdy, sometimes wavering, sometimes strangled conviction to stand up for what is right. They will grow through their experiences, they will learn the bounds of their own strength, and they will discover how courageous and powerful they are each time they make themselves vulnerable.

Though they certainly arrive with the baggage of previous years: an armful of mistakes, a handful of doubters, and a stretch of road littered with bumps, the fact remains that on this day, their slate is strikingly clean.  The grade card is clear, the sketchbook is blank, the pencils are full of graphite, the call lists and team rosters are empty and the possibilities are endless. When they stand for that picture, they have no idea who might cross their path, which future thoughts might fill them with wonder, or who they might become.  They have no idea which adventures will shape their hearts or which challenges will make them shine.  

All they know is that today is the beginning. The scary, exciting, highly anticipated beginning. The line in the sand, the start of the race, the dawn of a new chapter.  The date on the calendar they don't want to think about until it is finally here, waiting for them, begging for them to arrive.

But once it comes, they do too.

And so should we.

See, in my opinion, we should all arrive--figuratively, of course--and celebrate on the first day of school. Regardless of how many years have passed since we stood smiling on our front porch, once a year, we should all dig down deep and discover the same courage we ask our kids to find. In honor of them, we should open our arms and embrace our fears. We should hype up our hopes and wonder what's possible. We should set new goals, anticipate new joys, meet new people, inspire new dreams, explore new opportunities, defend justice, reset, re-begin and re-imagine.

Today, we should bare our teeth, hold up our chins, dance to our own little tune, swim within a fresh wave of optimism, and tell our feet to march forward, onward, upward toward a renewed, reinvigorated version of ourselves. Today, we should try--just like them--to learn how we can make the world just a little bit better, how we can sift through the injustice and sadness, the oppression, violence and despair, and push through to the other side.  How we can crack open our hearts, steady our voice, and brace our legs to stand up, to reach out, and to reach in.

Happy first day of school, everyone. Go get 'em.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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Our lives are littered with low hanging traffic signals--strung across our consciousness--and those drab lights choreograph our lives: advising us when to stop, asking us to make a decision, pushing us onward and upward down the road.

Those lights often determine our status with future lights, they dictate arrival times, they frustrate us, they taunt us, they change our direction, and they fill us with excitement when they manage to turn at just the right moment and allow us to shave minutes off of our commute.  

They teach us about the depth of our patience, our likelihood to abide by laws, our awareness of others, our propensity to reflect, our ability to rewrite plans, our willingness to accept fate, and our readiness to embrace, reject or reimagine our future.

While green lights are desirable, when we approach an intersection that propels us forward, we often fail to notice the shade of color above our heads. When lights hold us back, however, when they flash a burning yellow we know we cannot beat, we hover on the cusp--on the tip of a turning point--waiting for the chance to break, to pause, to change.  Trapped in a standstill, our engine lowers to a murmur, the sound of the music rises, and we get the opportunity to reframe, revisit and potentially redirect our path.

Sitting at that red light, we are forced to break our stride, to halt the autopilot, to wait: wait until the signal lets go, until one moment gives way to the next, until the green light fills the space at the bottom, and invites us to press on the gas and begin again.