Thursday, June 1, 2017

Norman Rockwell Lives!



I was asked to go to a grade school graduation this May.  One of those yearly rituals that parents
have to endure.  We don't have children but a neighbor's daughter was graduating and my wife gives
her piano lessons so we were invited.  I had no interest in going, but it was one of those situations
where I knew I would get the evil eye if I didn't go.

What my wife failed to realize was this was a high school in the middle of nowhere.  We live in
Southern Arizona along with U.S./Mexico border and the word rural would describe the landscape
very well.  We drove for over an half hour across a high plains desert before arriving at the home of
the McNeal Falcons as the sun was beginning to set.


What I got to witness over the next two hours really gave me pause to appreciate those things that
assume are there on a daily basis but we never take the time to look. Those things we reminisce
about when we get older.  The things they told us about in social studies.

For that magical 120 minutes I was whisked back to a time of deep innocence.  Where the world had
endless possibilities.  A place where those small children on parade in their caps and gowns were
afraid of the future and excited by it at the same time.  They have multiple horizons to chose from,
they just have to start walking toward them.  There is no thought about turning back, because they
are just at the beginning.


It was easy to see who the early movers and shakers were.  The next lawyers and bank presidents
were on display with their awards and certificates.  I could also make out the smart trouble-makers
and the slackers.  They were all on parade just like when I was 12 years old.  The trappings might
change but the core goes on unchanged from generation to generation.  

But here, even the trappings didn't seem so different from my memories.  The school was small,
with no auditorium.  The ceremony was held in the open air underneath a large shade canopy
surrounded by school buses to keep the wind down.  The band that played the Star Spangled Banner
for the Pledge of Allegiance consisted of a flute and two coronets.  They were terribly off-key, but I
have never heard it played so well in my life.  Here it had value and meaning.  It struck a different
chord than the times I have heard it at football games.  


The scene made me think of my years on this planet and find all the similar chords and memories.
There were many more than I had remembered.  This was a picture of life that was ongoing and
never ending.  It was also a fragile picture that could easily be lost with neglect or apathy.  It
renewed my spirit and faith in ourselves.  Maybe there is hope.