There are a few small children on our block. I see then down at the corner, waiting for the bus. They are new students, so they all seem to have adults with them, and one even has a dog who waits with him for the bus to come.
Just a couple of years ago, it seemed that there were no children on our block. Our block was single people and empty nesters, a young couple without children. Now my next-door neighbors have two pre-schoolers, and there is that small cadre of students waiting for the bus.
I watch one little boy ride his block down the street. He is wearing a bike helmet. He has a backpack. I think he is six years old. He appears earnest and independent as he weaves his way down our quiet block. He is only riding for a block, but he is riding his bike.
Then I widen my perspective, and I see something else. I see a young man, walking just a little behind the boy. He walks behind the little boy, and if he gets too far behind, he sprints a little, to keep up. There is an invisible thread, I think, connecting the boy and the man. The little boy seems independent, going to school on his own. But the father is not far behind, keeping his son in his sight, making sure no harm comes to him. If his son falls, he will pick him up. He will take the bike home with him after the bus comes. And he will bring the bike back to the corner in the afternoon, so that his son can ride again, practicing independence.
This is the time of year for going to school, which means different things to different people. Frankly, to some it means nothing at all. September is just another month in an endless parade of months. But to others this is the time of year for going to school, which means getting on our bikes and going just a little farther this year, or pushing our brains just a little farther. It means stretching and getting tired and hitting the wall. It means asking questions, some of which have no answers.
This is the time of year for going to school, which is both exciting and painful. In life, as in school, we learn things that amaze us and things that disappoint us.
This is life, I think, going back to school, riding our bikes down the street, becoming more independent. That's what I see.
Then I change my perspective, and I see something else. I see someone walking, or sprinting, behind us. There is an invisible thread connecting us.
You can look at life as a series of close-up shots, or you can widen your perpsective and see something more, the invisible thread that connects us, parents and children, teachers and students, friends and strangers. We are not so independent as we seem.
On 9/11 we caught a glimpse of a horror. We also saw the invisible thread. We heard the voices of people calling one another, saying, over and over "I love you." We saw people running into burning buildings to rescue people they didn't even know. We saw people holding hands in the darkness.
It was just at the time of going back to school.