Labour Day has come and gone, bringing a sea change to our house as the lazy days of summer give way to the chaos of fall. There is a long standing tradition in our family that I take Michaela to her first day of school each year. I have re-arranged work schedules, cancelled appointments, done whatever was necessary to make sure that this happened. It is a selfish thing on my part, an opportunity to spend one last moment of summer together before she goes back to school.
Last year, when I dropped Michaela off for the first day of grade seven (her last elementary school year), she said goodbye and rushed out of the car with a youthful confidence. That school had been her second home for 8 years, full of friends and teachers that she trusted, and she walked through the front door like she owned the place.
The first day of high school is different though, isn’t it? You go from being a big fish in a little pond, to a small fish in an ocean of uncertainty. I could tell that she was nervous this morning but I watched, full of pride, as my daughter exited the car alone and took those brave first steps into the next phase of her life.
…another transition under way.
I thought a lot about her on my drive home, of memories going right back to the delivery room if I am being honest. I thought about her first steps, her first words, and our first trip to Disneyland together. I thought about the relentless march of time, and how we are constantly swept along from one transition in life to another. Transitions can be scary, overwhelming at times, but they also bring us opportunities for growth.
I clearly remember many firsts in my own life: The first time I walked into an ambulance station to work as a paramedic. The first life that I saved. The first baby I delivered. The first death notification I gave. The first time I held my guitar and stepped onto a stage. My first professional gig as a photographer. The first time I reached out to hold my wife’s hand. The day my daughter was born. The first time I realized I had PTSD. The first time I felt healthy again.
Every one of these “firsts” brought an opportunity for success. And, when I failed, they brought an opportunity for growth. These transitions, as well as a thousand other ones, defined me. I am proud of the person I am today, I am proud of the work that I do, but never have I been more proud than when I watched my daughter walk into that high school this morning. She is my legacy, the lessons learned from my own transitions merely giving me the tools to support her through hers.
I don’t know what the unstoppable march of time will bring me next, but I know that I will always embrace the opportunities that come with it.