My boy Ed is on a field trip today. (Big surprise, that's what June is for.) He was really looking forward to this one, he told me. His grade eight class is on their way to the Holocaust Centre and then Chuck E Cheese. I was ... I don't know. Bemused, maybe. Nice juxtaposition, I told him. Yeah, he said. It'll be awesome. At first I was off-put by the idea of the combo field trip. Holocaust Centre and Chuck E Cheese. There's no segue here, no connection or learning opportunity. (Who does the marketing here? It would be like packaging Today's Parent magazine with Soldier of Fortune.) I pictured my boy weeping silently into his pizza, surrounded by excited sugar-enhanced shrieks. But as I got to thinking, I wondered if there might not be a lesson here after all. These elementary school teachers are wiser than I. Life is not an easy segue. Each of us faces terrible moments, and cheesy ones. Is it better to treat the Holocaust as a staggering horror from the past, like the Flood, to be taken out and dusted off every now and then, or as part of our everyday, ongoing, human existence? Exactly. The Nazis were not extraordinary -- that's what makes them so damn scary. I strive for integration in my life. I want to enjoy my work, most of the time. I want balance and perspective, to see the good and recognize the not so good in everyone, to love and parent my kids, and to let them go. I want to connect what I do with who I am. As an integrated being, I can see the link between evil and banality, between the Holocaust and Chuck E Cheese. I hope Ed does indeed have an awesome day.
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