Diamond Girl

I don’t remember whether I’ve owned up to this previously, but I am a HUGE Neil Diamond fan. This song is the primary reason. It’s from his soundtrack to the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was more or less based on the book by Richard Bach.

The movie was a trainwreck, but the soundtrack was phenomenal, and when I pulled it out of my mom’s closet during a day off from school my sophomore year of high school, it inspired me to reread the book — which has, in turn, inspired more or less every gutsy thing I’ve ever done in my entire life: teaching high school, conquering my fear of heights, running my first marathon. You name it — if it tested my courage or my confidence, I probably read the book again before I tackled it.

If you want to know what makes me tick, read Jonathan. It’s all in there.

In the meantime, the lyrics to “Be” will stand in for Cliff’s Notes:

On a painted sky
Where the clouds are hung
For the poet’s eye
You may find him
If you may find him

On a distant shore
By the wings of dreams
Through an open door
You may know him
If you may

As a page that aches for a word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
And the one God will make for your day

As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the sun
God will make for your way

And we dance
To a whispered voice
Overheard by the soul,
Undertook by the heart
And you may know it
If you may know it

While the sand would become the stone
Which begat the spark
Turned to living bone
Holy, holy
Sanctus, sanctus

As a page that aches for a word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
While the one God will make for your day

As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your way

— Neil Diamond

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done involved teaching the students in a special ed English class to interpret symbolism and write a five-sentence paragraph using Jonathan Livingston Seagull as the basis for the lessons. I was observing in their classroom one semester in college, and their teacher (who loved them dearly, but who had enough classroom experience to believe in the concept of limitation) assured me that there was no way any of them would be able to write a paragraph, but I was welcome to beat my head against that wall if I wanted to.

Over the next few days, the class and I read the book together, talked about what it meant, identified some symbols in it, discussed their significance, and then every last one of those kids wrote an essay called “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done.”

They got it. And by the time they were done, I think their teacher did, too.

Deep down, we are all Jonathan.


Signs of life

OK … it’s the day after Christmas, and I’ve got a mosquito buzzing around my office. Something isn’t right here.

Ah, well. If that’s the price I pay for a mild winter, I’ll take it. It’s chilly out, but not horrible. It was much colder last night, but I didn’t mind too much, because we had a warm fire going. Scout spent most of her Christmas stretched out next to the stove, soaking up the warmth. It takes a lot to coax her off the papasan, but the stove can do it.

I went to the Country Store today, just because I was in the mood to think about planting stuff. Bill and Kathey were happy to see me. Bill said the sight of me wandering into the store gave him hope that spring wasn’t too far away. “You’re like the first robin,” he said. “The first spring customer comes in, and I know the winter will be over before too long.”

I liked that.

The day the Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to camp is the day spring training (and thus, to my way of thinking, spring itself) begins … which means we’re 50 days away from the first day of spring. 😉

Just wait ’til next year!

Oh, yeah — I bought a bag of sunflower seeds for the birds while I was at the Country Store. I’m hoping to attract bluejays. I haven’t really seen any since we moved, although Kathey says they’re all over the place. Maybe I can coax them into our yard. Mom and I used to have a ball watching the bluejays fight with the squirrels over the maple seeds that came twirling down from the trees in front of our house when I was a kid. Grace and I used to pick up the beautiful blue feathers the jays dropped, too.