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Sep 26
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Back to School, Back to Square One
A group calligraphy from the Summer Arts Dathün 2010 at KCL

A group calligraphy from the Summer Arts Dathun 2010 - KCL

While at the Summer Arts Dathün, I rediscovered True Perception by Chögyam Trungpa. His words about art and artful living led me to contemplate artful family living.

What does it mean to live artfully as a family? How will I guide my family in the coming school year? What approach might be best? In what way can this school year be a “fresh start”?

Each year as Labor Day rolls around, families with children begin again. The start of the school year marks a “New Year” for families, teachers, and students alike. So, here we are. Back to Square One.

At this point, we are in a very powerful spot: being in the present, we can reshape the whole future. Therefore, shouldn’t we be more careful, shouldn’t we be more awake in what we are doing in this very moment?
-Chögyam Trungpa

Another school year sets our lives in motion. The lazy, perhaps more carefree days of summertime slip away. We buy school supplies, sign the children up for fall sports, and ink Back-to-School Night on the family calendar. The routine’s familiarity both comforts us and bores us. Surely this school year will not resemble the last. New teachers, new friends, new subjects, and additional extra-curricular activities, even a change of school – these things will all produce a different year. However, our way of being, our way of interacting with this school year, might be just the same. We might continue with the patterns set during the last school year.

Angela's children on their first day of school

Angela's children on their first day of school

Perhaps your family has a rigorous schedule of soccer practice for your third grade son, while your twelve-year-old daughter joined a competitive dance troupe, and your second grader’s teacher suggests he take speech therapy after school. As parents, we want the best for our children. So, you take on each challenge. You schedule carpools and divide responsibilities, engineering the family schedule to work around each and every activity. You’re doing it all and you feel good about it! But later in the semester… you feel trapped and over extended – just like last year! This is just one hypothetical example, of course. Many different scenarios could run a family dry of their lungta – year after year.

The point is to approach your family’s activities with thoughtfulness, to be mindful of what your family considers to be a priority. This is the same as coming back to your breath during meditation. Being present on the cushion is practice for being present in your family life. Parents who make their mindfulness practice a priority in their lives will find they notice when the family balance is off kilter. Course corrections are always possible if we’re paying attention. Better yet, we must begin carefully. As the school year unfolds, let us continuously keep in mind the words of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche: being in the present, we can reshape the whole future.

Enjoy the school year!

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2 responses to “ Back to School, Back to Square One ”
  1. Larry Fallon
    Sep 27, 2010

    Excellent article for those with kids in school, teachers starting a new year, and anyone needing a fresh start. I will send this link on to a number of friends in the categories above and we can all breathe some freshness into this new academic year. Thanks for bringing this to our moment Angela.

  2. What a wonderful article!

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