The School of Life

I’m pretty sure there’s a law against harassing school girls.

There must be some ban against hopping over the hedge at Street Cuisine, grabbing a biology book out of child’s hand and yelling “You will never need to know the anatomy of a cricket!”

My best friend tells me the breakfast at those prison cells near Fashion Bar is no good so I sit tight and watch the two of them go.

A pair of pretty young things dressed in neatly pressed uniforms who make their way towards Post Street Mall weighed down by a library of books that will teach them sweet nothing about life on the outside.

Outside institutions, hostels, structure and schools.

Like many people, they’ll probably graduate from a secondary or tertiary institution thinking “What the f*ck?”

There will be job seeking, laundry and the very really threat of malnutrition so as they look back on all they have learnt – calculus, crickets, the Cold War- there may be the distinct feeling that school is more ‘Things To Do Between Ages 6 and 18’ than ‘Accumulation of Vital Information’.

The urge to jump over hedges comes from doing my taxes.

You see, when one eventually secures a job in a dwindling job market absolutely nothing like the land of milk and honey embellished by career counsellors, we’ll all have to give a little of our hard earned cash to the government.

Some people will have this deducted straight from their salary while those whose Math teachers foretold the biting sting of vagrancy in direct proportion to their inability to solve for x will probably work for themselves and have to work it out on their own.

The rub here is that nobody will have taught us how to do it.

This thing that everyone will eventually have to do will be neglected in favour of learning how to grow silkworms, take care of pet potatoes or build Papiermâché volcanos. And on the day you get your first pay slip, the deductions will no doubt baffle…and beggar.

Needless to say, the last decade or so has been a learning curve. Steep, scary and soothed with episodes of alcohol.

So as I watch those two girls giggling and going about their business, I hope to God that things have changed since my school days.

I pray someone out there has introduced a brand new class to the curriculum, simply called it ‘Life’ and thus begins each lesson with a big, fat, kick in the teeth for maximum realism.

Better yet, I hope some jaded but justified entrepreneur has really built ‘The School of Life’ which miscellaneous individuals pursuing an alternative path put on their Facebook profile under ‘Education’ because how wonderful would it be to go there to learn about death, taxes and the diminishing metabolism?

The School of Life.

What a time to be alive.

What a joy to learn how to survive the last two weeks of the month on nought but 100 dollars because you’ve spent what little money you have drowning the sorrow of working all day and fitfully sleeping all night on booze and bad decisions because rent’s high, salaries are low and whisky is cheaper than therapy.

And wouldn’t we do well to learn a little bit about people? How people don’t own people. That nobody can make anyone else stay, love or happy and that everything anyone does has more to do with them than it will ever have to do with you.

How glorious would it be to understand that we’re allowed to feel low?

That life can be spectacularly shitty but the pendulum swings. That happiness can be found in every single day and doesn’t exist solely in the future, after paid dues and due disaster but whenever we choose to let the good outweigh the bad.

The School of Life.

A place to learn about being human, about our shared mortality, the inevitability of tragedy and where we are given the tools to bounce back, meditate and make the most of our lives.

Perhaps if it existed when I was child, I’d have learnt what I now know to be true: Life always let’s you know when things are over.  Listen, let go, move on, be great.

If I knew then what I know know, perhaps I would have saved myself a whole bunch of time, tears and trouble but more likely in the great, big, baffling scheme of things ‘The School of Life’ is the thing itself.

Waking up, mending your heart, doing your taxes and thinking better of Olympic hedge vaults.

We live and we learn.

About the big things like how to live and the small things… like crickets.

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