Seasonal Affective Reordering

I love these kids.

These bright eyed recruits, fresh to the craft, newly minted and unpolished, these old and young all-at-once, these boundless excesses of energy, not yet stunted by perspective.

They are as unafraid of questions as any group I’ve ever seen, setting their frame-of-reference up against everything new and ready to see it changed and stretched and grown. They are wolves, and every new thing is their prey. Knowledge, experience, fear, wonder, they hunt it down with precision and abandon.

I sit down to eat with one of them, and hear confession. They are uncertain, and afraid, but they are undaunted. They are ill-at-ease with their received faith, with simplicity and steps and a church reduced to social gatherings, and are looking for some way of meshing old truths with the complexity of the world as they are coming into it. This is the very meaning of courage, to me, to lay aside old comforts in order to take up greater things.

UCO rehearsal campIn these days before the start of classes, there is the luxury of unhurried time, and a kind of egalitarianism. I am not yet their Professor, they are not yet at the mercy of my gradebook, and we can talk freely. We can be friends, for a few days more, and we can talk about ideas and their consequences. I think sometimes that I get to do my best teaching in these last few days of summer, when the campus is full of eager students, and my time is unbounded by lectures and grading.

I love this place, and these kids, and my place here with them.

17 thoughts on “Seasonal Affective Reordering

  1. Gretchen

    Awesome love. I remember that feeling of excitement and sheer unknown fear all mixed into one. I love that you get to be a part of this still, but from the “other” side.

  2. June

    Not to be all miss-the-pointy, but are ALL the girls in that photo wearing skirts? I guess I didn’t realize that Azusa was ‘like that.’

  3. Faith Kathleen

    Hey I’m in that picture! You can just see the top of my head waaaaaaay over there at the end of the soprano section.

    And no, they’re not all wearing skirts. I know for a fact that I was wearing pants that day.

  4. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="117456"]Not to be all miss-the-pointy, but are ALL the girls in that photo wearing skirts? I guess I didn’t realize that Azusa was ‘like that.’[/quote]

    Oh, it’s totally not. Sometimes I whish is were more ‘like that’ so I didn’t have to dodge my eyes away from so many midriffs on my way to class.

    There’s a tradition in the performing groups of dressing up a bit more during rehearsal camp. It’s not as strong as it used to be (you used to see everyone in choir in their Sunday best for rehearsal), but it still permeates the groups a bit.

  5. Chad

    You really think they’re more mature? You think it might be just your perspective that has shifted?

    I dunno… it always seems to me that there’s nothing new under the sun.

  6. the ben

    interesting idea. maybe we tend to exaggerate our own immaturity at that age because we compare it instantly with our current selves…

  7. Chad

    Man… I remember when my wife dressed like that back then.

    She’s waaay hotter now, that’s certain.

  8. June

    Ah, I see. That’s quite charming really. Maybe midriff exposure will go out of style soon.

    When I taught (and I use the term loosely) at Pepperdine, I used to walk past some of my students getting the last draws on their cigs before they slunk into my class. I always felt a little peeved about that. I’m not sure if it was because I was thinking about their innocent, young, pink-but-not-for-long lungs or because I, the teacher, was walking PAST them on the way to class (I was never early) and this fact moved them not at all. Why be on time to class when you can look cool and get a jump on cancer instead?! (And, probably break the rules…Pepperdine is a tiny, tiny bit ‘like that.’)

    Chad, don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes I feel a little old NOW when I think of/hear/see you! (Oh wait, that’s because I AM old.)

  9. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="117683"]You really think they’re more mature? You think it might be just your perspective that has shifted?

    I dunno… it always seems to me that there’s nothing new under the sun.[/quote]

    I’m not making a sweeping statement about youths now vs. youths then. I’m just saying that the bell curve of maturity for the students in my specific area here now is higher than it was with us.

    These guys do things like delay gratification in order to pursue higher goals, thoughtfully organize their time throughout the semester to align with their value structure.

    Dude, we never did anything like that. Not as sophomores.

  10. Chad

    I guess I’m just thinking out loud, and you’re the guy on site.

    I have nagging suspicions. :)

    Every year with the choir, I deal with 30 extremely bright and talented HS students, and I can tell you that they are both more mature and sophisticated in some ways then I was. In some ways, they are less so.

    I think sometimes their humor lacks sophistication, for example, and I mean that comparatively to the humor characteristics of my friends from that era. I can quote you specific bits of funny from my high school days, and guarantee you that the verbiage and wordplay is far more advanced then anything I heard on the bus last June. I mean… I still remember all the made up dirty lyrics from HMS Pinafore from my freshman year, and they’re still funny. And really dirty.

    I can also tell you that their humor is more sophisticated in some ways. Three of the boys made a parody video recreating the oft mocked “Angry Golfing Song” sequence from HSM2. It’s a hoot.

    I guess what I am suggesting is that each generation has characteristics that both improve on and degrade the one before it. I bristle a little at the unilateral suggestion that these kids, 10+ years younger, are wholistically more mature then we were. I believe you that some areas of their maturation are more developed, and I would also concede that the change in tone at the School of Music is attracting more kids with a sense of purpose and drive.

    I mean, you yourself linked to that article from Psy. Today talking about the prolonging of adolescence that’s become increasingly prevalant in the post boomer culture.

    You, obviously, are a smart boy, so I hate to be one telling you the sky is purple, when you’re staring at it and it’s blue.

    I think it might be taupe, that’s all I’m saying.

  11. Chad

    [quote comment="117983"]

    I’m not making a sweeping statement about youths now vs. youths then. I’m just saying that the bell curve of maturity for the students in my specific area here now is higher than it was with us.

    These guys do things like delay gratification in order to pursue higher goals, thoughtfully organize their time throughout the semester to align with their value structure.

    Dude, we never did anything like that. Not as sophomores.[/quote]

    I just re-read this, and I think it — frankly speaking — speaks more about the people on staff at SOM vs. 12 years ago. We, as students, weren’t taught to delay gratification, thoughtfully organize our time, think about long term goals. We were taught to shave and do our best to stand near the center of the choir because that’s where Jesus lived.

  12. michael lee Post author

    Ok, now I’m in the part of the semester where all I’ve been doing for the past 2 weeks solid is grading, grading, grading.

    Sigh.

    I miss those few days of the end of summer when I wrote this.

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