~Wallace Stegner from Angle of Repose
Sixteen thousand students have appeared magically overnight on the campus where I’ve worked for three decades. Unfortunately a record was set for the number who ended up in the emergency room last night due to their celebrating the start of the school year a bit too aggressively.
How is it the start of a new school year can be wistful, jubilant and potentially hazardous all at the same time? There are always plenty of mistakes to be made and plenty to learn from, though sometimes at tremendous cost. This is a risky way to start an education.
More than New Year’s Day, the beginning of autumn represents so many turned-over new “leafs”. We are reminded of this whenever we look at the trees all over our beautiful campus and how their leaves are turning and letting go, seemingly joyful as they make way for the next stage of growth, the slate wiped clean and ready to be scribbled on once again.
Every autumn each emerging adult comes to the university with a similar clean slate, hoping to start fresh, leaving behind what has not worked well for them in the past. These are our future patients who we hope are open to change because they are dedicating themselves to self-transformation through knowledge and discipline.
It is a true privilege, as a college health doc, to participate in our students’ transition to become autonomous critical thinkers striving to better the world as compassionate global citizens. Their rich colors deepen when they let go to fly wherever the wind may next take them.
We who remain rooted in place celebrate each new beginning, knowing we nurture the hoped-for transformation…
…as long as we can keep them out of the emergency room.