It’s Older Daughter’s first day of class at her new school, a vicarious Opening Day for me. (My own is just a week away now.) Day 1, a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, a tabula rasa, a rising sun. September in August.
“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” Wallace Stegner
“Football in the air” doesn’t resonate for me as it does for most, this time of year. But I suspended my Holy Crusade against the game Malcolm Gladwell likens to a dogfight long enough to enjoy the spirited post-New Student Convocation pep rally in the Heartland the other afternoon. Go Dawgs. But, behave yourselves off the field and remember that a student-athlete is a student first.
The rally was only overtly and ritually and superficially about the game. What matters is the camaraderie, the sense of a shared collaborative project, a mutually supportive singular identity, a common cause. It’s jarring to begin all over again, in a new place. But it’ll be more than comforting to come back to that place again and again, in years to come, with the old slate wiped clean.
That’s precisely what I love so much about my own daily pre-dawn ritual, this game I play every morning. I’m not here to beat anyone, though. I’m just trying to feel the pep and channel it, like old Arnold Bennett who said “you can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” Every dawn seems the steadier pace, for me.
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