This week I was reminded that there are many ways to achieve insight in this world – some more appealing than others and some more effective than others. I mentioned last week that my son starts school in September and we had his school induction afternoon for which he insisted on dressing in his entire correct school uniform including the appropriate bag and socks. Its possible he was trying to blend in with existing pupils and thus get into school 6 months early but I think he blew that plan by boldly directing a question to the head mistress midway through her opening speech! I don’t know where he gets it from honestly!! He is so ready for school you can almost feel the magnetic pull of the books, brains and experiences tugging at him constantly. He can’t get to sleep at night thinking of things like “Mummy – What is my hair made of?” and other crucial parts of the puzzle he is about to begin. When we look back at our school years are we still as aware of what a huge journey it was and quite how much we learned about the world and ourselves…or do those retorts of “well I’ve never needed calculus in my job or my life” just render it a waste of precious time.
By contrast I suspect someone in our local area learned an incredible set of lessons in a split second last week following a head on collision with a car whilst racing his L-plated dirt bike round the single carriage backroads near my home. I had been observing a growing group of young men donning their red L plates and enjoying the freedom of an engine under their control for the first time – swerving carelessly from one side of the road to the other, throwing exuberant wheelies past the high school and turning to see if they’d grabbed the eye of anyone standing outside. I remember that feeling only too well – released from parental eyes and effort-powered movement in the fresh warmth of early summer with mock exams over and only the finals to consider. Beach parties and late night gatherings galore. But one young man will have a very different view upon this phase of his life from now on. He is lying in hospital with a shattered leg and broken ribs and perhaps a slightly quieter spirit.
His friends seem…to borrow from the much read “Gruffalo’s Child” in our house…”a bit less brave…” with their riding techniques. It is quieter in the evenings with the roar of revved engines gone…and with it has gone a certain innocence that my son is breathing for the first time…an innocence we would all recognise. It is intoxicating and it drives curiosity and exploration and…of course…risk taking.
Insight is gained in a myriad of ways…and is in no way a privilege of youth. Cultivate your curiosity, explore your world and all is has to offer…and take the occasional risk…its what make life worth living.