Giggling begins. It starts with one student, but it spreads like a yawn. The laughers lose control, their bodies shaking and the sound taking on the edge of mania. Some put their heads down on their arms, shoulders pulsing even as they muffle the sound.
I remember teenage emotions. The laughter, the heartache, the love, the tears. How much emotional intensity is due to newness, the personal inexperience with life, with feelings?
Experience is a wonderful teacher, but it also wears down the extremes. Though I’m glad I no longer feel the intensity of hurt that came with the disappointments and tragedies of youth, experience also takes away some of that perfect joy.
I still feel the edges of it sometimes. The laughter will linger, approaching that barrier, but there is too much control now. Is it about learning to let go, or remembering how to?
Teaching young people does keep you young, partly because it reminds you of what being young is like. But while most experiences build our capacities, observing youth reminds you of how much is taken away by the years.