Before cable TV, Wal-Mart, two car families and shopping malls, we had radio, corner stores, buses and department stores. We dreamed about landing on the moon, wore white T-shirts, PF Flyers and cutoffs, collected empty soda pop bottles for ice cream money, helped hang out laundry and rode the bus.
I will never forget the feeling of absolute freedom and adventure the first time I used my bus pass. The door opened and the driver looked down at me with his arm extended and his hand frozen on a worn chrome door lever. Walking up those curved stairs that day my life changed. I entered a world of exploration and discovery. The driver nodded as I proudly walked by the fare box and showed him my laminated bus pass and headed to the back of the bus. This simple piece of paper enlightened me. It allowed me to realize learning opportunities are everywhere and never ending.
Although that first solo ride was long ago it empowered me for many years thereafter. Learning how to read bus schedules and routes became a way of life for me. Bus transfers and trips to the public library were my enlightenment. I recognized the world around us is our greatest teacher.
Sitting in the treasured last row of the bus, I could see all of the other bus riders and take in the sights and sounds out the many windows. I was safe and actively in control of my life. Within seconds I could ring the exit bell and skip down the stairs to a new destination. Time became elastic and my only timetable was arriving home for dinner. Every Saturday was a caravan of discovery.
How and what we learn is more about acquisition and less about opportunity. Endless events and experiences entice us to hide behind patterns of behavior and expectation from ourselves and others. We cannot allow life to make us passive participants. We must engulf life or be engulfed. We cannot allow turbulent sensation to blindfold us and hide learning opportunities or encourage retreat into a world of unconscious behaviors and decisions. My bus pass taught me a new adventure is always within reach. All we have to do is step onto the bus and listen for the voice that tells us to get off the bus and always know another bus will come.
What are you and your child doing today to escape your cocoons? What bus routes will you choose? Will you be ready to ring the exit bell? Trust me, life is filled with transfers and the bus line called life is always running.