We're in the States for another day or two, chomping at the bit to get back to Bahia de Los Angeles and our friends there. I was driving home from a doctor's appointment several days ago. I noticed many small family groups, mothers and fathers and children. Many of them were carrying an arrangement of balloons, filled with helium multi-colored and clustered together and typically in the hands of the children. At first I thought it was someone's birthday and the folks were heading for a local festivity. Then I realized it was graduation from a variety of academic levels that was the cause for celebration.
As we live in an agricultural area in California many of our friends and neighbors are steeped in Hispanic traditions and history. Most of the small bands I was seeing along the streets were Mexican. It gave me cause to think, about our school system and the Mexican system and the reward that a child must feel over primarily being made a fuss over and secondarily, upon experiencing a graduation. I was carried back to my own junior high graduation (the last one I experienced) and how my grandmother placed a great significance on my achievement. She presented me with a large glass globe, a model of Earth, lighted from within and positioned atop a rotating axis. I was both surprised and proud. Her actions made me feel like someone else truly cared about me. Just me.
In Mexico, at least in rural Baja California the average academic achievement is to complete the sixth grade. I know those children who finish that level must be very proud of their accomplishment and their parents as well. Most of us in the U.S. strive, if not completing, some level of college. Not as true in Mexico perhaps as it is in the United States, but completely understandable in any case.
But the lack of a stronger education has many positive related issues. A lack of education can help hold a family together; children are obliged to work locally with the parents rather than travel thousands of miles to complete an education and then being obliged to find work at greater than desired distances from their loved ones. With a lesser education the young are encouraged to remain closer to home, where they are familiar with those neighbors they have been raised among.
Living on a simple stretch of beach on the shores of the Sea of Cortez reminds me that it isn't always the highest academic level we can achieve, or the most money we can earn. There is a place, a large place for the many simpler sides if life. The time to enjoy nature, to be close to a god if we choose one, to partake in the less complex of life's segments at our own level and pace. Sometimes education can so wrap you around an axle with pesky nagging details that we miss more important things.
Red, yellow, green and blue balloons transfer to the recipient an acceptance, a respect for some seemingly minor or major accomplishment. They imply a love for others.
While my most memorable balloon was an illuminated globe of Earth from which I have learned of vast continents, oceans, rivers and ranges of jagged mountains, no lesson was more meaningful than learning that another person actually cared about me. Just me.
I hope that all children, all families share balloons with those that are accomplishing a small or large feat, that we respect each other, starting at home, by communicating our appreciation for each other. Maybe we just start with a few balloons to show each other how much we all matter.
Seems like that would make a good Father's Day wish. In my personal world of family I think I'll play several iterations of Alan Jackson's hit "Remember When" and reflect just a moment more.