When One Door Closes

As many of you know, I am a municipal reporter and columnist. For the newspaper this week I combined the two elements in my column, and though this may seem a local story, it is one that is played out across the years and across the miles:

Stone One-room School (c.1820)

Stone One-room School (c.1820) (Photo credit: origamidon)

INTRO

            “At the Board meeting of November 20, 2012, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) approved the closure of the Ruthven Public School effective June 30, 2013 and declared the school surplus to the needs of the Board.”

            The above paragraph was included in a notice to the Town of Kingsville in April along with the announcement that the GECDSB was issuing a proposal to offer the property for sale at a fair market value to a number of organizations. Yes, that is a door you hear closing.

WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES

            School closings are hard. They are hard on the children who called the Ruthven Public School their school. They are hard on the teachers and staff who taught and worked at the school. They are hard on the community. And they are hard as they close a door never to be opened again.

            The saying “when one door closes another one opens” is trite but true. The students from Ruthven will be transferred to other schools, the majority to Jack Miner, and I am here to say that the transition will work. How do I know? Because many many years ago my school was closed and I was transferred to Jack Miner Public School (at the time it was Gosfield South Public School). The difference was I went from a one room school house to what we referred to as the “big school”. The transition for the Ruthven students should not be as daunting.

            At the time I was transferred a lot of the one room school houses in the area were closed so I was not the only deer caught in the headlights of a big change. At my school, six grades were taught in one room, while the grades ones and twos were taught in the boys’ and girls’ rooms—the rooms that housed our coats and bathrooms. We were civilized though—the bathrooms were closed off from the main part of the boys’ and girls’ rooms—so the six and seven year olds were not being taught how to read with Dick and Jane, Puff and Spot in the presence of the toilets.

            I remember my first day at the “big school”. I had to take a bus to get to the school which was a scary adventure in itself. Then when I arrived at the school there was some confusion as to where to go. The newbies had not been introduced to the new school beforehand (which on reflection would have been a really really good idea). When things were sorted out, I found myself sitting in a classroom of about 30 kids all the same age. We were pretty well all ten years old, and in my class many of us were like fish out of water—joining kids whose home school was Gosfield South. I guess we were somewhat of a foreign entity, and I heard rumours later that our intelligence was in question as no one was certain if the kids coming from the one room schools were up to speed.  Speaking on behalf of my cohorts— we were.

            I do not remember the transition taking long. I liked my new school, and my teacher went to my church so that was comforting. There were quite a few of us in the same boat so it seemed to go pretty smoothly. There were a lot of advantages to going to a bigger school though I missed some of the community feel of my little school. To this day I do not regret the opportunity afforded us.

            Kids are resilient. They cope because they have to—and what is at first strange and weird becomes normal. I feel badly for the students who may no longer be able to walk to school, and be “hugged” by their tightknit community, but speaking from experience, adopting a new school is not insurmountable. Economics govern and we may see some other closures and adaptations in the future. I know if my kids were affected I would be concerned—but moms and dads, students and teachers: consider this a new and exciting adventure. It is the only way to at first, muddle through; second: assimilate; and, third: enjoy the ride.

CONCLUSION

            I leave you with these words from Anna Quindlen, from her book, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”: “I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and today is the only guarantee you get.” Enjoy your summer vacation knowing a new “today” is awaiting you.

Do you have a similar story?

Happy Happenstances

 

Doubling up

Doubling up (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

Anna Quindlen on the subject of fear and how it changes over time:

“Perhaps instead of scaring ourselves we need to surprise ourselves every day. We are, after all, always a work in progress. There were things I hadn’t done, didn’t know, couldn’t imagine at fifty that have all come true in the last decade. There must be such things to come in the decades to come as well. They arrive not because of the engraved invitations of careful planning but through happy happenstance, doodles on the to-do list of life.”

This was just one bit of pithy advice I gleaned from Quindlen’s latest book, “Lot of Candles, Plenty of Cake”, a memoir of her life. But it is a memoir with a difference, with a message or two or three, with her wry observations of life creating more than one aha moment.

Her quote was based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice that it is important to do something every day that scares us, but Quindlen makes the point that as we put a few years under our belts, fewer thing scare you. So instead she opts for surprise. I would like to opt for surprise, for happy happenstances.

We all have “situations” and “issues” that are big and need to be taken care of. But I have come to the conclusion that we cannot stop living while we are trying to get these resolved. As we are living through them, we have to stop and enjoy the happy happenstances. (try saying that three times fast)

Bliss is the happy happenstances or “the doodles on our life list”. What are your doodles?

You Are Not Alone

“I feel like I’m not alone,” some of those who wrote me said, and the sentiment changed my life. That’s what’s so wonderful about reading, that poetry and essays make us feel as though we’re connected, as though the thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and sometimes nutty are shared by others, and we are more alike than different.”  ~ Anna Quindlen from “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”

English: Flower bed Pretty spring flowers in K...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is exactly this feeling, that you are reaching others, that you are not alone, that we are more alike than different that keeps both Quindlen (who is admittedly a bit more successful than I, being  a Pulitzer prize winner and all) and I writing.

The best writing I have read is something that hits a note with me. Something that resonates. Something that says what I have been thinking. Something that make me part of the world, not apart from it. And that is the kind of writing I strive to do. On a much more limited basis, I have had people tell me that they could identify with the words I have written, that my words made them smile and recognize that they are not alone.

I guess on some level, writing gives me power. Power to communicate what I cannot communicate well out loud. I say often that it gives my lonely voice in the wilderness a place to vocalize.

Bliss is feeling a part of something; something that penetrates the aloneness. What do you think?

Published in: on May 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm  Comments (36)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,