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A Back-to-School Mindset Is Positive at Any Age

Fall is a season of fresh starts.

Back to school at any age.

I recently read Martin Short’s hilarious and heartwarming memoir, I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, and I found we have something in common—we both love the idea of back-to-school season. Short actually measures his year around the school calendar, even though neither he nor his children strap on backpacks and ride the bus.

I adore summer, but fall has always been my favorite season, and the idea of going “back” is a large part of that. The relative freedom of summer—even in the sense that we are free to take evening walks in the warm, late twilight or, here in New England, to eat fresh, local produce—is a joy. But eventually, as the calendar turns to September and the first crisp nip of autumn air flows into our lungs, it feels good to drop anchor in routine, home and whatever else we might return to after a warm, wonderful summer.

What inspires me about “back-to-school” time, though, is that we never really do actually go “back.” When we’re in school, we advance each year. We’re literally growing and getting older. But we’re also moving forward in life—advancing in our abilities to cultivate meaningful relationships, deepen our understanding of the world around us and handle more complex learning and responsibility. That mentality—that we are perennially ready to grow and learn more—is something I always feel in September, and embrace as an opportunity to set new priorities and goals for the “year.”

This week, my son will start first grade—he is just beginning the phase of his life where “back-to-school” has literal meaning. But for me, for Martin Short and many other grown-ups, we will relish the turn in weather, the first evening sweater and the moment in the year when we get to ask ourselves, “what will I learn this year?”

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