Warning: This post has nothing to do with schools or education or policy. Just a personal reflection from time spent with my kids.
I watch the boys play with reckless abandon in the forest. They run and crash land in puffs of dirt; which they call “magical dust” in the enchanted forest.
Brenna picks flowers for a daisy chain, joins the boys for the race and then moves back to the flowers. Micah gets distracted with a butterfly and for five whole minutes sits with his hands out hoping it will land on him.
Eventually we go for a short hike. I feel a few rain drops, but think nothing of it. It begins to drizzle and it feels like Christmas to the boys, who shift from hiking to prancing and dancing and skipping along the trail. Slowly, it shifts to a downpour. The boys, once covered in dirt are now covered in slippery mud and Micah, who has exhausted all of his energy in running through the forest now asks me to carry him up the remaining hills.
When we return to the truck, I’m soaked and mildly irritated. I hate getting wet. Minutes later, the truck gets stuck in a rut and I have to stand out in the rain trying to push it. Christy, sensing that I’m upset reminds me, “It’s a story.” It’s a code phrase for me, letting me know that this is the setting where adventure happens. These are the external conflicts that push the internal conflict. Will I remember that attitude can be a choice? Will I remain patient with the kids? Will I allow the characterization to happen? This is where the themes emerge.
Three days later, we leave Colorado. We have a predictable route. We have snacks and water bottles and books to keep the kids distracted. We leave at 8:30 Colorado time, which means we’ll have lunch in Kayenta, they’ll nap by Tuba City and we’ll be home by 5:30. However, as we pass Flagstaff, we find out that the I-17 is closed just outside of Phoenix. We choose the route through Payson, only to learn that the state highway is closed as well.
“It’s a story we’ll share,” Christy says.
So we drive through the beautiful, dense ponderosa pine forests of Pine and Payson. We meander through the high desert mountains and hit the “golden hour” on the way to Roosevelt Lake. It’s sparse and majestic and beautiful.
Eventually we snake around to Globe and then Miami; a western ghost town without the tourist charm. It’s a place of small town charm, mixed with rust and decay and apartments with shattered windows. I notice the train yards, where urban art is carted into rural areas without the blessing of the law. I smile at the old western corridor with all its charm and then cringe at the new chain with their gaudy blandness. This place is a ghost town in purgatory, never completely leaving or coming back, always in transition.
A work in progress, like me.
The sunset bathes the town in a vibrant red as we head toward Superior. Power lines tower over the once-majestic cacti, reminding us that who truly holds the power in this state. But as it grows darker and the sunset fades, we’re covered in a canvas of stars and I’m struck by the illusion of power.
I realize that it’s not much of a story. The dialogue was great. The setting was beautiful. The conflict was more internal than anything (learning to be patient with the constant demand for food and water and the play-by-play reports of who hit who — though, honestly, the kids were troopers).
I hope I remember the theme.
Ditch the algorithm.
Embrace the story.