But in the Meantime....
I have mentioned many times my having to memorize prose and poetry while I attended high school a half century ago. It was not something that I ever enjoyed for even a nanosecond. I saw no value in being able to recite words written many years before.
After graduating from high school, I left behind the burdensomeness of memorization and went off to college and graduate school. After getting my masters, I traveled to Scotland and went to New College at the University of Edinburgh for a year. That was the beginning of my reversal regarding memorizing lines of prose and poetry.
In the early spring, I drove down to the Lake District to explore that part of the UK. While walking around in that beautiful part of northwest England, I came upon a hill and climbed to the top to discover a huge field of daffodils lying before me.
Arranged before me were several acres of daffodils. As my mind swirled around those yellow dancing daffodils, all that I could utter were small segments of what I had memorized years before in my high school English class. This scene must have been what Wordsworth had seen a century and a half before me.
Wordsworth apparently had been walking in the same area of the Lake District with his sister and happened upon a sea of daffodils. So overwhelmed by the beauty, he wrote the poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, which we simply call Daffodils. This was his first draft of that poem.
How I was able to recall a few lines of that poem, I cannot explain that, especially since I did not enjoy memorizing any of the lines while in high school. Nevertheless, in every home in which I have lived since my return from Edinburgh, I have planted daffodil bulbs...thousands of them.
I am planting some of them on Wolverton Mountain years ago. At least, my part of the world is lovelier than it could have been due to what Wordsworth wrote,
While I am happy that I beautified the world a bit, another professor, Mr. Keating, reminded his class that there is more to life then beautiful daffodils.
Professor Keating looked back decades to previous classes of that school. He compared his class today to classes of years gone by.
Over the years, I have often used Dead Poets Society in my teaching. I loved Keating's drive and desire to help the next generation of students. He wanted them to excel. Be all you can be. His clarion call was not merely to vegetate. Act. Keating did not want any of his students to live lives lacking luster or drive. Carpe diem was his message to his students. Seize the day, and do something to enrich the world in which they lived.
Then Keating warns his class and all of us that we are not immortal. Someday, we will die. Therefore, live now. Do something of value, because some day we all will be fertilizing daffodils. Having danced with death a couple of times, I am very aware of my mortality. Near-death experiences are beneficial. Steve Jobs said, "...death is very likely the single best invention of life." Pancreatic cancer taught Jobs that critical lesson of life.
Interesting, Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon also had pancreatic cancer. Listen to his Last Lecture. Pausch is dying of cancer and is more alive than most of his listeners. Death is a great instructor about life...if we Carpe Diem.
Listen to Wordsworth's poem about the golden daffodils.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
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Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.