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Oh look! A shiny thing: Summer's end draws near, but let's not forget autumn's promise

You could pack a lot into a single summer, and we did, but even with nostalgia goggles on, the realities of summer never quite matched that awesome potential you looked forward to on that last day of school.

Autumn stock photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash
Autumn stock photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash
Erik Witsoe / Unsplash
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When you’re an adult, it’s easy to lose track of the rhythm of the school year. Most of us don’t have three months off during the summer, and even those who do probably have their hands full with child care, projects or hobbies.

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Most adults don’t get to feel that heady mix of elation and raw untapped potential on the last day of school for the year, as the summer opens up before you like a curtain floating apart on a stage, waiting for you to claim your rightful place.

You could do anything during the summer.

Anything.

And I very frequently did. My parents spent a lot of time and money on our summers, sending us to local day camps for basketball, scouts and church groups as well as educational day camps further away for classes on acting, literature or French. Then there were the overnight expeditions, where we went to Bible camp or spent a week in Washington, D.C., learning about politics and that the Capitol dress code is the same whether it’s 72 degrees or 102.

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We went on trips as a family, too, heading to California to visit various relatives, Chicago for somebody’s wedding, Florida to experience Disney World with our cousins or Washington, D.C., this time to visit approximately 3,718 museums and landmarks and flop into our hotel beds at night. Frequently my family went to the lake, and I’d hang out with my cousins and have adventures with them, catching frogs, spotting (alleged) bears and trying not to let our feet touch the weeds when we swam.

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In between all the go-go-going, I read a lot, swam a lot, played Nintendo — then Super Nintendo, then Nintendo 64 and finally, text-based roleplaying games online — and spent some time with friends. Sometimes that meant a sleepover, which in turn might mean climbing up into the barn to pet dozens of kittens so tiny their mews were just squeaks, or learning how to sleep on a friend’s waterbed.

You could pack a lot into a single summer, and we did, but even with nostalgia goggles on, the realities of summer never quite matched that awesome potential you looked forward to on that last day of school.

Going back to school, too, was exciting and a little bit scary. You’d be in a new class with a new teacher and new students, after all — there too, the possibilities were endless.

In literature, autumn often represents a time of change, but if you reach back far enough, it too can become a time of endless potential and new possibilities.

Is there a skill you want to learn or a class you want to take? Check out what District 518 Community Education has, or try a class at Minnesota West Community & Technical College. Nontraditional students added a lot to my classes when I was 20 and it’s great fun to return the favor now that I’m a grayhair myself.

Is there a friend or relative you’d like to be closer to? Focus on that relationship and start working on it.

Are you struggling with your health? Make an appointment and speak with your doctor, whether your ailment is mental or physical. The pandemic took a great toll on everybody, not just you, so be kind to yourself and see if you can get some help to become your best self.

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You don’t have to be a child to see the promise in a summer, but when you’re an adult, you can see the promise of autumn and the promise of change, too.

Welcome to the new school year!

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Opinion by Kari Lucin
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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