Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Small Fish, Big Ponds

With the tremendous school choice in New York City, it is mightily tempting to go for the biggest, the best, the places with the most to offer. After all, that choice gives you exposure and access to everything that might possibly interest you. Whatever it is, you can find it. Whatever it is, it is there, only awaiting your discovery.

As I watched my daughter receive a few of the many hundreds of awards given at her school, I was struck by how many directions the students there had explored. Though they had all attended the same school, it almost felt as though they had gone to many different ones, so varied were their interests and fields of expertise.

I could argue that this made for a building full of strangers, each pursuing his or her own individual passions, separate from the others pursuing other passions. Yet, as I heard the student cheers each time an award was announced, I realized that these are clearly not strangers. While they may travel in small groups based on their interests, these kids make up a school not so completely different than the school I attended. Sure, it is bigger. Okay, there were probably people with whom my daughter never even crossed paths. But it is also a place where she, and a whole lot of other kids, found a little bit of what would start their paths. As I stare at the giant auditorium, I am keenly aware of the idea of being a small fish in a big pond. It is easy to lose your way in that big pond, and to feel sometimes as though you will get eaten. It is also possible to experience things the little pond would never have allowed, and to grow in ways the small pond would have made impossible.

We all sometimes find ourselves feeling very small in that big pond. But if we are lucky, and persistent, our survival skills there can make us ready for the ponds--and oceans--to come. Would we choose again to be that little fish in that big pond? Hard to say. But having been there, we are now stronger swimmers and more interesting beings--a little more ready to approach our next big--or small--adventure.

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