It’s that time of year again when many people of various ages and educational inclinations are doing the June thing. Graduating. Always the same time every year, the cusp of springtime’s full expression onto the heat of a playful summer.
I believe it is no accident that it is “degrees” that are earned when finishing college. All graduating is done by degrees, whether schooled or not. Butterflies graduate through the egg, larva and pupa grades to reach adulthood. School children grow, change shape, learn and “graduate” to the next grade. In the family of living things we humans take an extraordinarily long time to do this. Not only that, but socially we have created even more hoops to jump through before allowing any of us to enter the stream of so-called maturity. The stages of schooling, the collection of sports and academic trophies all mark our growth through our egg, larva and pupa stage to adult.
As adults we are still graduating! We travel through a career, with the markers of an ever-increasing salary and responsibility level to show our “graduating” to the final phase of burnt out rest in retirement. We do enjoy making it more complicated.
But the fun? Where is the focus on graduating degrees of healthy pleasure? Why is the fun only an afterthought and of such short duration? Why can’t we make everything fun? And pleasant. And joyful. And playful.
Why do schools never offer significant courses in fun? Or pleasure. We expect children to grow up learning about something that will profoundly inform and balance their lives mostly on their own. They are left to their own devices to learn and explore how their sexuality works and interacts with others. We would save them so much awkward, painful and sometimes crushing experiences if it were considered as healthy an avenue of consideration as eating your vegetables.
Imagine if we taught the young to view everything they learn in terms of compassion, empathy and play. I might have been able to get through Geometry a lot more happily if it was taught with Legos.
Our expectations of the growing young are short-sighted and just silly. And unbalanced. And it is my crackpot theory that this is the reason we seem to be moving ever further away from each other in separate cultural balloons that destructively condemn the others and sometimes demand their annihilation.
Two things seem to help us, as humans, to graduate to a place of tolerance, acceptance and ease. One is shared trauma. The other is shared play. Trauma is just no fun. But play! Play is fun. Play is educational. Play has a positive impact on us down to a cellular level. We learn amazing things without even knowing it when we play. What we experience in play informs everything else we know. It helps us to view the mountains of information shoveled into our cranial guts in a more positive and creative light.
While we watch our June graduates in their various grades, exhausted and burned out by punishing regimens of the current paradigm of education, imagine if we could shift our consciousness just ever so. Shift it over to looking at the future adult creatures of our species as precious, amazing and only partially realized gifts to society that need an added dimension for graduating. They need a dimension where enjoyment and healthy pleasures have focus and positive emphasis.
Can we replace the slapping rulers with a feather tickler?
Imagine what the world would be if we graduated in joy rather than exhaustion.