I was motoring to the dump on Thursday - had the day off and I like to fill it with excitement - when I was reminded that I live in a college town.
New England College is located in the small town beauty of Henniker, NH.
A quick aside on Henniker.
We moved here in 1986. I came from a quiet seaside town known as Winthrop, Massachusetts; Carol came from an armpit called Billerica, MA. In all fairness Billerica was not an armpit when Carol moved there as a child.
I describe it as an armpit because that is what it was when we bought her parents' house in 1979 and moved right on in. Our kids were born in 1980 and 1983; it was not a comforting town to raise children in.
When we escaped to Henniker in 1986 it was like being reborn. It immediately felt like home and we knew instinctively that it was a safe and beautiful town for our sons to grow up in.
As I was driving to the dump on Thursday I was in just the right mood to admire the town appreciatively. The sun was out, it was quiet, and the small town New England charm of the place was slapping me in the face and infecting my perspective.
We have lived here for almost 29 years and we still love it.
Anyway............. as I passed the college I was watching young life moving to and fro with books and notebooks and computers and an effortless approach to life kind of attitude.
This always strikes me whenever I am in the vicinity, which happens more often than not when I am on my way to the dump.
There is so much going on here.
College is an exceptional experience. When you attend, you believe that you are separating yourself from the herd, that you are guaranteeing yourself a better future and avoiding the horrific nightmare of a dead end job that will torture you for the rest of your life.
This is true for some students. People who know exactly what they want, people who apply themselves and squeeze every good thing out of higher education.
These people are in the minority.
A lot of students spend a lot of time partying. College offers a reality-free zone; it is in between the horrors of public education and the reality of working for a living.
You can get drunk, you can get high, you can enjoy mindless sex. You can graduate with a degree in something meaningless and wander into a bewildering life of confusion.
A lot of students don't even know what the hell they want to do with their lives and end up choosing a major that has no relation to who they truly are, leading them into a bewildering life of confusion.
I think there should be a face to face confrontation required between a potential student and a representative of a college. A real down and dirty conversation to determine if this person even has a clue about who they are and what they want.
That would have to occur in a vacuum where tuition income is not a factor.
Hence, it never will.
However...........................my intent is not to paint a bleak picture of what college is all about.
What it really is all about is hope.
The vibe I get as I look at these students is one of happiness and hope. They seem lighthearted, they laugh a lot as they walk along.
There is enthusiasm there and it is tangible.
I like to imagine their conversations are intelligent and their questions deep and probing.
I enjoy seeing these people bounce around my town. They are the antithesis to the typical Henniker resident who is scratching out a meager living and wallowing in cynicism.
These students are walking talking proof of the potential for a fulfilling life.
And they come in waves. The hope never ends. The class of 2019, the class of 2020. Every year the sign in front of the school welcomes the new class in, and you can just feel the hope and positivity emanating from that welcome.
I like living in a college town.
It makes me smile.
It makes me keep a small flame of hope alive.
And a small flame is all that is needed.