I spent yesterday at Shiloh High School participating in their Career Expo. I had a blast talking to the students and in general reminiscing about my days as a student at Shiloh. I was even able to take a tour of the school, and as I walked halls familiar and new, I was struck by a thought:
My how things have changed. And that’s good.
There are loads of new buildings: a new gym, a new theater, new classrooms, a new alumni center, new athletic offices, new tech spaces, new computer labs, and even a new lounge-ish area in the cafeteria. To walk the halls at Shiloh is to forget for a moment about all of the troubles you often hear about from the grumblers and detractors; instead, you discover a world of amazing young people, many of whom hope to make a difference with their lives.
When I left yesterday, I made a mental note to keep that experience in mind. As I’m getting older, I find that nostalgia is increasingly rose-colored, and I have to temper that mindset. Sometimes, when I see old things changing, I’m guilty of thinking of progress as an encroachment on me as an individual and I react badly.
But old does not automatically equal good, and tradition is not necessarily a high standard.
Instead I’m learning to embrace healthy change. I’m learning to let myself be challenged in my thinking and perspectives.
Heck, if you don’t believe that, take a look at the new life that Jennie Dittmar has breathed into Grayson Local. A few weeks ago, I was seriously thinking about pulling the plug on Grayson Local; I’d lost my drive and didn’t see a way forward. Then Jennie emailed me out of the blue and convinced me to listen to her ideas. I found myself believing that Grayson Local’s best days were still far ahead of us. She just had that kind of impact.
If you haven’t met her, Jennie has an energy and an effervescence that draws people in, and she’s done a heckuva job pulling me out of my writer’s hovel. I mean, we’re going to have a booth at Grayson Day this year. We’re going to wear t-shirts, and let encourage people to take selfies at our booth with a sign that reads #ImAGraysonLocal. We’re going to hand out business cards and look for the people and businesses that make Grayson great, and then we’re going to bust our butts to bring those stories to you in a compelling way.
For someone who’d rather sit in the house and read and type all day, that’s a huge step.
Yet that’s what life is about: huge steps. Growth. Moving forward. And as I looked around Shiloh yesterday, I saw growth. Progress. It wasn’t perfect, and only the most blind optimist would tell you that things are peachy-keen; but even among the realists there was an abiding sense of hope and potential. Teachers who weren’t ready to give up on the kids. Students who weren’t ready to give up on themselves.
At the same time, however, I was only able to appreciate the progress because I knew the past; as a former student, I could see and feel the difference in the school. Who and what we were determines who and what we will become.
It’s powerful to think about.
Yesterday, the past became prologue, as it inevitably does. Today, I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and the best that is to come.
Here’s hoping you are too.