Saturday, August 13, 2011

Seven Years is a Long Short Time

Seven years.  Time, as Einstein explains, is relative: "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute -- then it's longer than any hour. That's relativity!"  There are days when the seven years since my brother died seems thick with time, forever ago.  On other days, like Wordsworth, when I'm "surprised by joy," the time is lost and I will think - I can't wait to tell Marc.  Feeling the weight of the years again is the hard part. 

Seven years.  It's surprising to think of all the things he'd never heard of that are an everyday part of my life now:  YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, iPhone.  Befunky.comAnd that's the short list.  And the events he missed.  A (very) short list:  Hurricane Katrina, the Boxing Day Tsunami, the election of President Obama, the Global recession, the earthquakes in China and Japan, the fall of Tiger Woods, the Vancouver Olympics, the Canucks big run (and the subsequent riots), his youngest son's graduation from high school, his oldest son's graduation from university, my daughter's wedding. 

What's important quickly reveals itself against our greatest losses.  I've been thinking about what's important to teach in school again.  I feel inarticulate always.  I keep wanting to say, let's teach each child as though he is the one who will save the world.  Because he will.  She will.  Who else is there?  Let's teach each child as if he were the brother we lost, the daughter we yearn for, the children we hold in our arms.  Doesn't it seem that what's important is easier to see?  But still, it's so very hard to move from an idea to action in schools.

Marc often sent me quotes.  Just before he died he sent this one:  The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.  (Thomas Paine)

When I think about how much the world has changed in seven years, I begin to feel braver:  surely we can change schools enough for Zachary - and for the extraordinary children like my brother was, like so many of our brothers are, who are lost in schools today.

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