Poetry and Playgrounds

Spring Break! For me it’s a chance to hug my kids, spend time with my wife, and take a deep breath before the wild rumpus that takes us to the end of the school year. Before master scheduling begins, state testing arrives, and students’ collective minds turn toward the important stuff: beaches, summer, and each other, this week away from work grounds me and gives me perspective. Spring break is a lot like poetry.

We need both, I think, for a healthy education; perhaps it’s no coincidence that National Poetry Month and spring break both arrive to LCC in April. Poetry captures life in motion and crystallizes a moment or an emotion. Poetry invites us to slow down, to breathe, to think. It suggests oceans when it gives us drops. In its condensed way it captures life and if we allow it, it provides us with a new way of looking at the world.

At its best, spring break does much of the same. As students, teachers, and others in our Maverick Family are able to spend time with the people they love, as they slow down (even for a brief week), as they travel (literally or through books) and experience life at a different pace, they have the opportunity to return to campus with a clearer perspective. The stresses of March can be replaced by the clean breezes and warming sun of April. The fights that seemed worth fighting run the risk of losing their edge to the mellowing influence of a new day.

It was at the playground with my kids that Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet and 1990 Nobel Laureate, reminded me of this transience in a poem called “Writing.” Finding some shade while my kids wilded through the play structures, I read:

Yo dibujo estas letras
Como el dia dibuja sus imagines
Y sopla sobre ellas y no vuelve

I draw these letters
As the day draws its images
And blows over them
And does not return

Accusations of naiveté may fly; I don’t mind if from time to time my optimism gets mislabeled. But I believe that just as a good poem has the ability to transform our lives, so too a week away can work magic.

Now, I don’t believe that I’ll come back to a job without challenges, and to be honest I wouldn’t want a job without opportunities to grow (another way to look at a challenge). But I do bring back an optimism that spring at LCC will be filled with great things. I see an LCC Foundation on the verge of recreating its offices as a Parent Resource Center. I see teachers innovating, collaborating, and taking risks together. I see counselors, even as they take on the Herculean task of registration, envisioning a new College and Career Center. I see students excelling in rigorous classes and pushing us to connect with each other in meaningful ways.

I see spring. I see hope. I see La Costa Canyon through the eyes of rested poet.

paz and playground

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