“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” ~ Sydney J. Harris
One of my August “before school started rituals” when I was a teenager was to buy Seventeen magazine and check out the fashions in order to get ready for another school year. There was a period in my long and sometimes not illustrious academic life when academics took a seat behind other important things—like clothes, boys, and friends. While Sydney Harris is undeniably right when he states that the purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows, if I were totally honest, there was a time (long ago and far away) when I was more interested in mirrors than windows.
Out of curiosity, last fall I picked up the September 2011 issue of Seventeen magazine to see if any of the things that were once important to me stirred memories. Well, lo and behold—some of the fashions were very similar to those of the early ‘70’s and late ‘60’s (I was a “young” teenager in the late ’60’s—what, am I on truth serum?). Short skirts, plaid dresses, platform shoes, and hints on just how that crazy opposite sex thinks were all provided in the still glossy magazine that used to be my Bible. Just like the old days. Only in the old days I believed the hints about boys. Today I am wiser. There is no figuring out boys. I know this as I have been married for 30 years, and have yet to figure out the “boy” I married, or the boys who are my sons.
I often wonder what boys do to gear up for another year at school. I never noticed my sons really “getting ready” for another school year—they just treated it more with resignation that summer was over and it was time to get back to school and sports and computers and friends. Sure they got new clothes, but mostly because their mother bought them. My youngest son who is in college says that all he needs to start his September semester is new jeans and running shoes. Much simpler than my needs for back to school when I was in university!
The walk down memory lane with Seventeen magazine jogged remembrances of the fresh start each September provided—and to this day September is really the start of my new year. But today, I am more appreciative of turning “mirrors into windows” than I was decades ago.