“…walks forth, without more train
Accompanied then with his own compleat
Perfections; in himself was all his state.”
-- John Milton, Paradise Lost
This description of Adam in the garden reminds me, surprisingly enough, of my students. Each day they “walk[ ] forth” into my classroom with their “own compleat / Perfections”, full of the inherent dignity that is seen in all of nature. Every blossom and grass blade I see these spring days is perfect in its own uncommon way, and so is each of my teen-age students. They may seem like ungainly, half-made adults, but, in very real and mysterious ways, they are each perfect at each moment – each just what they must be, just what this universe has invented at that precise instant. As they stroll to their seats, they stroll in a way that’s never quite been done before, and their looks of languor or enthusiasm are as perfect as they can possibly be. They don’t always get the right answer, but even their wrong answers seem wrong in a kind of distinguished and noble way. They’re perfectly wrong, so to speak. It’s impossible for me to say which clouds in a summer sky are the most perfect, and it’s equally hard to pronounce this student to be better than that one. All clouds and all students are special in their own curious ways. Any cloud carries itself with decorum and distinction, and so – to me, at least – does any student.